By Kenneth Jones
14 Jan 2013
"American Idol" country boy Bo Bice will star with Alexander Gemignani, Erik Hayden, Justin Hosek, Jane Pfitsch and Leenya Rideout in director John Doyle's new Broadway production of Pump Boys and Dinettes, opening April 8, following previews from March 19 at Circle in the Square Theatre.
Tony Award winner Doyle (Sweeney Todd) will also handle musical staging for the revival of the amiable, country-flavored 1982 revue set at a gas station/diner below the Mason-Dixon Line.
Mary-Mitchell Campbell, Drama Desk Award winner for her Company orchestrations on Broadway, is musical supervisor and is creating new arrangements and orchestrations.
The actors will also provide the show's musical accompaniment on instruments "including guitar, piano, bass, fiddle, accordion, harmonica…and yes, even kitchen utensils."
The modest show conceived and written by the original company, John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Tony Award winner Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, John Schimmel and Jim Wann, was a Best Musical Tony nominee back in 1982. A national tour followed. The show ambitiously boasted plucky original songs.
Pump Boys and Dinettes will be produced by Abby Lee, David B. Brode, Lee Seymour, Alec Seymour, Suzanne & Michael H. Moskow and executive producer Tom Viertel.
Since Doyle is known for his actor-musician productions (Sweeney Todd, Company, Cincinnati's Merrily We Roll Along), he would seem to be a natural for Pump Boys and Dinettes, which was conceived by and for actor-musicians (some of whom would go on to create the cult favorite Oil City Symphony). Doyle's version will include on-stage seating and a working bar.
Cass Morgan and Deb Monk would emerge as breakout stars from the original company.
The new take is being billed as "John Doyle's visionary tribute to life by the roadside." It "takes place on Highway 57. Somewhere in America's heartland, between Frog Level and Smyrna, North Carolina, stands a rest stop, for those who need a good rest. The four hard-working fellas at the gas station, Jim, Jackson, Eddie and L.M., have been known to do some auto repairs, but only when aided by ample quantities of time, great tunes and a few beers while they're at it. Just a few feet away, there's also a roadside eatery, the Double Cupp Diner, where the Cupp sisters, Prudie and Rhetta, celebrate their famous home cooking and gift for song with the same zeal they bring to their kinship with the boys."
Pump Boys and Dinettes, a hybrid of concert and musical theatre, premiered Off-Broadway at the Chelsea West Side Arts Theatre on July 10, 1981, transferring to the Colonnades Theatre in October of that year. It opened on Broadway at the Princess Theatre on Feb. 4, 1982, where it played 573 performances and was nominated for both Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Musical.
The creative team for the new production includes set designer David Gallo (Memphis, Radio Golf), costume designer Ann Hould-Ward (A Catered Affair, Beauty and the Beast), lighting designer Mike Baldassari (Cabaret, As Long as We Both Shall Laugh) and sound designer Dan Moses Schreier (Cyrano de Bergerac, A Little Night Music).