Brown County Playhouse: Pump Boys and Dinettes

"Pump Boys and Dinettes" at the Brown County Playhouse is an audience friendly rock n roll, country and blues, musical review. Fred Duer’s richly detailed set has a gas station’s accoutrements on the left and all you’d expect in a diner on the right. The dinettes, waitress owners of the Double Cupp diner, begin the evening by getting right out into the house to chat up the audience. There’s a mid show raffle and three lucky guys get singled out to be serenaded by a love song.

"Pump Boys and Dinettes" has a bare plot and there’s a certain logic to the show, but it’s pretty much a city vision of an engaging country cabaret.

Music Director J. Adam Burnette plays some terrific piano and has clearly enriched some of the vocal arrangements. David Cole, is the other featured instrumentalist on guitar, banjo and even ukulele. Mathew Buffalo plays the engaging co-owner of the station. Codey Girten sang, did some Elvis styled wiggling and had an energetic solo dance routine that took him all over the stage and even up onto the diner’s counter.

Director and choreographer George Pinney has added a little sister, Maggie Mountsier, to the Cupp duo of Allison Moody and Erin Ehlers. Clearly the addition works well with the extensive dance work and the richer vocal harmonies. He’s also fitted her nicely into the family drama. Allison Moody was always ready with a big grin and a quip. Erin Ehlers showed off a lovely voice in the love serenade and some belting power as well.

The music of "Pump Boys and Dinettes" includes some up tempo country style songs, a few rock numbers mostly done for amusement, a bit of blues and of course a couple of heart songs. I enjoyed the country and smiled at the rock. Neither the tribute to a recovered alcoholic grandmother in the first act nor the sisterly plaint that they didn’t understand one another in the second work for me, but there were more than a few handkerchiefs out.

It’s no surprise that a show directed by George Pinney will have plenty of dancing. Throughout there were many lively mini production numbers and the biggest applause of opening night was for the finale of the first act "Drinkin’ Shoes" with everyone but the pianist and guitarist tapping themselves into an entertainingly exhausted frenzy.

The Brown County Playhouse’s production of "Pump Boys and Dinettes" plays Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at eight and Sundays at three through July first.

You can find an interview with Pump Boy Mathew Buffalo and Dinette Maggie Mountsier on our Arts Interviews page .

George Walker

George Walker was born in Winchester, Virginia, and raised in Owl’s Head, Maine, and Valhalla, New York. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he came to Bloomington in 1966 and completed an M.A.T. degree in English at Indiana University. George began announcing for WFIU in 1967. Currently, along with regularly hosting classical music shows, he interviews artists in a wide variety of areas and reviews plays and operas. He’s the proud father of grown sons Ben Walker (and his wife Elise Katzif Walker) and Aaron Walker. In his time away from WFIU, George enjoys an active life with wife Carolyn Lipson-Walker, singing, reading, exercising and playing guitar.

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