Pump Boys and Dinettes Reviews
Chicago Tribune- Highly Recommended
"...When the cast of “Pump Boys & Dinettes” bursts onto the stage with a blast of warm energy against the quickly cooling Chicago weather, it’s clear that there are few better ways to spend 90 minutes than in the storytelling arms of the four gas station-running pump boys and the two waitresses of a North Carolina diner. Even before the curtain speech, the cast greets the audience, who, according to the musical’s plot, have been stranded off Highway 57 thanks to a broken-down bus, by telling jokes, taking orders for sweet potato pie, and offering to give away a free air freshener later in the evening."
Chicago Sun Times- Recommended
"...The material might not be the deepest, but it’s a whole heap of fun. That’s thanks to the performers’ rollicking charm and — crucially — their vocals and their ability to be their own on-stage band. In addition to strings and keys, the cast plays wooden spoons, rolling pins, coffee cans, salt shakers and a foot tambourine."
Chicago Reader- Highly Recommended
"...As a first-time viewer of Pump Boys & Dinettes, a nearly 40-year-old musical that showcases the depth and breadth of Black acting, musicianship, and choreography, I was surprised (though I shouldn't have been) to learn that Porchlight Music Theatre's racially diverse casting was the exception, not the norm. Under the direction of Black Ensemble Theater producing managing director Daryl Brooks, what's old becomes new, inclusive, and an incredibly fun 90 minutes of frothy musical theater. Brooks even engaged one of the show's original writers, Jim Wann, to add a new song that honors the Black experience in the South."
Windy City Times- Highly Recommended
"...Does an evening devoted almost wholly to songs coming one after another compose a concert or a play, and does a 90-minute running time really need an intermission? Who cares? After a year of isolation as gloomy as winter in the Smoky Mountains, who would turn up their masked noses at a motel room (with color TV) on a rainy weekend; a meal of catfish, succotash and sweet potato pie (served with warmth and a smile); or a holiday air freshener won in a raffle?"
Let's Play at ChicagoNow- Recommended
"...It’s time to turn on the theater lights, and Porchlight brings back one of the longest-running shows in Chicago Theatre history with its 27th season of Pump Boys & Dinettes. Straightaway from Highway 57, we stop at the Double Cupp Diner of Prudie and Rhetta, where the Cupp sisters offered fresh-baked pies and cakes with a cup of Joe and where Jim, Jackson, Eddie, and L.M work in a gas station garage near the diner."
Around The Town Chicago- Highly Recommended
"...It is a musical filled with country western sounds, toe-tapping, hand clapping and just a lot of fun. The cast is probably one of the smallest in a musical ( well, maybe “Tick Tick Boom” beats it) and the actors are also the musicians. The instruments are simple as well- guitars, piano and several unusual piecses such as a box of Morton Salt, a few wooden spoons, a pie tin or two, some drums ( just a little bongo) and other items that one would not classify as instruments, but guess what this cast, under the creative eyes of director Daryl Brooks and the musical direction by Robert Reddrick, it all works."
NewCity Chicago- Recommended
"...So much of the show still steers clear of the more soulful realizations that it seemed the new interpretation still has some wedding to do. But it's still early days for Chicago theaters at work on diversifying their companies and productions, and this is a stellar effort to learn from, clap to, and, for days after, to hum to."
WTTW- Highly Recommended
"...Driven by 18 rip-roaring songs (including "Surf Castin' Man," a new addition written by Wann, and movingly performed by Harris), the performance is more of a musical character study than a story, with a "boys will be boys" attitude toward drinking and fishing, and a spot-on car repair story ("Taking It Slow"). Along with the Double Cup diner's name itself, there is a nod to a Southern-style menu that includes catfish and pie. And by the time the show reaches "Closing Time," you wish you could grab a menu and place the last order of the night."
Chicago Theatre Review- Highly Recommended
"...So if you set out on that trip down Highway 57, “Taking It Slow,” the rewards will be plentiful and highly entertaining. You might just go home with a car air freshener, if you happen to win the raffle following intermission. But regardless, this 90-minute musical will be one trip this Fall that you’ll be glad you took."
Buzznews.net- Highly Recommended
"...Under the direction Daryl Brooks, a name you may know from The Black Ensemble Theater, this cast gives a lively energetic jolt of life lessons, foibles and desires by way of country western songs. The genius of Brooks was in casting an inter-racial group of people to play the pump boy and dinettes, thereby making it a broadly American Musical."
The Fourth Walsh- Highly Recommended
"...There is plenty to love about this show. Traveling down to Highway 57 is a carefree pandemic road trip worth taking! PUMP BOYS & DINETTES is THE destination for a fun-loving, shoulder-shimmying, broad-smiling (underneath the mask-wearing) night out!"
Chicago On Stage- Highly Recommended
"...Porchlight’s production wipes clean almost all of the stereotypical “80s” from this show, and Brooks’ vision and direction help it fit seamlessly into today’s world, in which its blend of bouncy, joyful songs and occasional slower character pieces feels right at home. Mostly, however, it is designed to get us tapping our toes and clapping our hands as we enjoy this buoyant, jubilant slice of life that puts COVID, politics, and the economy completely out of our minds for an hour and a half. And that is welcome indeed."
"...What happens when a bus breaks down along that section of Highway 57 that intersects with North Dearborn and Oak in River North? You will discover the highly entertaining answer to that question when you venture out to Porchlight Music Theater’s 27th season opener, a buoyant revival of “Pump Boys and Dinettes” now playing at Ruth Page Center for the Arts."
Picture This Post- Recommended
"...Sweet potato pie and cup of joe? Catfish and fries? Staying several feet back from the edge of the stage – a Covid-protection stance – sisters Prudie and Rhetta scribble orders from the stranded passengers (aka the audience). Soon, the cast of Pump Boys & Dinettes jumps into nonstop country rock and pop numbers. The pump boys clutch guitars and pound a piano while the dinettes sing their hearts outs and keep the beat with makeshift instruments."
Rescripted- Highly Recommended
"...Porchlight Music Theatre kicks off its 27th season with what it calls a "a country fried phenomenon," and I can assure you it is precisely that. Set in a North Carolina diner/filling station somewhere off the highway, Pump Boys and Dinettes provides a scintillating peek into the lives and relationships of the guys and gals of the Double Cupp Diner."