If you love the music of America's heartland, you'll fall for Our Productions Theatre Co.'s Pump Boys & Dinettes now playing at the Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theater.
The diner where the story unfolds, lodged somewhere on the spine of Highway 57 between the towns of Smyrna and Frog Level, may be completely different than anything you have seen at a road trip pit stop. But this charming little musical draws you into the delightful hijinks of soulful, guitar-playing lecher Jackson (Doug Jackson), minx dinette Prudie (Stephanie Riggs) and the rest of the gang.
The hour-and-a-half show is comprised mainly of musical numbers through which the employees of the pump station and the adjoining Double Cupp Diner share their adventures, ranging from the time a Maserati driving femme fatale absconded with LM (Mark Mullino) to the group's run-ins with their corrupt sheriff.
Although the production does not focus heavily on plot, it is clear before the end of the first act that romance is brewing between Jim (John Venable) and Retta (Angie McWhirter). It is left in limbo, however, whether or not their love can survive the siren calls of fishing trips and the pitfalls of silk roses and marijuana plants.
Even as the players pass on the wisdom of the people who fix our transmissions and brew our coffee, the play will remind you, if you ever forgot, that the Bible Belt can be every bit as naughty as the rest of the country. Laughs are abundant as quips and innuendos fly back and forth between the characters and at the audience with lightning speed. It is enough to bring back every memory of all the attractive, funny waitresses you have met on cross country jaunts.
Director Mullino expertly deploys his players in the small theater where they romp behind pianos, bang out percussions on pots and coffee cans and court each other in between.
The show tunes are a crossection of the music that has won its place in America's soul, whether it be country, folk or the blues. Some of the songs are sentimental like "Sister," the dinettes tribute to the joys and sorrows of growing up. Some are the rocking ballads fronted by the pump boys, but the actors' talent with both their voices and their instruments is apparent throughout. At points it can be easy to forget that you aren't at a private concert.
The actors do not use all their surprises on the music, however, and the scenes in between songs are thoroughly entertaining. Each character brings his own distinct spark to the stage, but my hat goes off to McWhirter and Riggs who, sweet and saucy, steal the audience hearts as they put pie in their mouths.
The who event leaves a taste as sweet as the coffee with lots of sugar that the waitresses pump into the audience throughout the night. It ain't boasting if it's true, and it's no lie when these mechanics say, "Pump boys say they know how to have fun."