The title lasted more than a year on Broadway (573 performances) and a national tour emerged. Boasting one set, a small cast and an amiable tone, it has blossomed like kudzu in regional theatres over the past 25 years.
Pump Boys and Dinettes was nominated for a 1982 Best Musical Tony Award. It was also Drama Desk-nommed for Outstanding Musical that year.
In the bookless concept show, musician-actors sing songs about Southeast rural life along Route 57 — the Cupp sisters work in a local diner, the boys are grease monkeys at the gas station. Jim Wann wrote most of the music and lyrics, but his writer-castmates contributed other songs.
(Writer and original cast member Cass Morgan is currently in Broadway's Ring of Fire. She played Rhetta Cupp and Debra Monk — today a busy star of New York plays and musicals — was sister Prudie Cupp.) "Complete with a raffle with real prizes, and intermission refreshments served by the dinettes themselves, this is a raucously good time that only southern hospitality can serve," according to the latest production notes.
Pump Boys and Dinettes is directed by Adam Gerdts and Laura Standley. The cast will feature Franklin Golden, Amy Heidt, Michael Hicks, Zeb Holt, Kate Middleton and Mitch Rothrock.
"The reason why Pump Boys worked while other similar shows have not I think is because the creators were actually from the South, and knew from what they sang," said artistic director Kate Middleton, in notes. "Our whole company is from the South, the same area that the originators are from, and we have the same appreciation for the culture. I hope we can bring the same vitality and humor to the world that they did. It's as far from NYC as you can get. And that's what makes it great!"
Performances continue to May 27 at 177 MacDougal St. It plays Wednesday–Fridays at 8 PM and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 PM. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased by calling Theatermania.com at (212) 352-3101. Visit www.groundupproductions.org.
Ground Up Productions was spawned from a group of artists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a production of Neil La Bute's The Shape of Things. The success of that production encouraged the formation of a company whose mission it is to produce "The New Classics": Plays "which were recently on or Off-Broadway, and are headed towards greatness (or already there)," according to Ground Up.