Pump Boys and Dinettes, Country-Fried Musical, Will Get Broadway Revival Come Spring; John Doyle Directs

By Kenneth Jones
October 22, 2012

Those filling-station attendants with farmer tans and those waitresses with hot pots of java will make harmony again on Broadway in spring 2013 when the Tony Award-nominated, country-and-pop-flavored musical Pump Boys and Dinettes opens under the direction of Tony winner John Doyle.



Drama Desk Award winner Mary-Mitchell Campbell (Company) will provide new arrangements and orchestrations (and is music supervisor) for the loose-knit revue set below the Mason Dixon Line. 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.

The new production is produced by Abby Lee, David B. Brode and executive producer Tom Viertel. A theatre will be announced.

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. A theatre, dates and casting will be announced shortly.

According to new producer Abby Lee, "The folks in Pump Boys and Dinettes are facing tough economic times and hurting financially but are hopeful for a brighter future. Sound familiar? They find balance and great joy in the music in their lives and they take us along for the ride. We are thrilled to bring this musical back for today's audience in a fully interactive and immersive experience with on-stage seating and a bar to boot. Come and let the good American folk on Highway 57 melt your troubles away with a generous serving of great music and foot-stomping fun."

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. With joy, heartbreak and hilarity, these Pump Boys and Dinettes also play a stunning variety of musical instruments including guitar, piano, bass, fiddle, banjo, ukulele, harmonica…and yes, even kitchen utensils."

The creative team includes set designer David Gallo, costume designer Ann Hould-Ward, lighting designer Mike Baldassari and sound designer Dan Moses Schreier.

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.