News Column

Theatre! Statesville production opens tonight

July 18, 2013


July 18--Theatre! Statesville is set to debut a musical tonight that promises to deliver moments of heartbreak and hilarity to the audience -- all with a country Western, rock-and-roll vibe.

Curtain call for the musical "Pump Boys and Dinettes," the last show of the fiscal year for volunteer-based Theatre! Statesville, will be at 7:30 p.m. at the Old Jail on South Meeting Street in downtown Statesville. For those who cannot make it to the opening show, there will be seven more chances during the next week-and-a-half. Tickets are $10.

The story of "Pump Boys and Dinettes" is that of four mechanics who work in a body shop and their relationship with two waitresses who work at the "Double Cupp Diner" next door. While there is a bit of dialogue, director Ian Sullivan said most of the plot moves through song, with four of the characters playing a keyboard and electric, acoustic and bass guitars onstage throughout the play.

Sullivan, who also teaches theater arts at North Iredell High School, called the narrative "slice of life."

"It is definitely fun," said Sullivan. "It is perfect for this area. It is quick. It does not slow. It does not drag."

Sullivan said the musical would likely be enjoyable for adults of all ages and children older than 10 or so. Anyone younger than 8, he said, may not be interested.

The two main characters, mechanic Jim and waitress Rhetta Cupp, played by North Iredell High School senior Aaron Collins and recent East Carolina University graduate Heather Baynes, have a "kind-of, sort-of relationship" said Sullivan.

"I don't want to give anything away," Sullivan said.

As one might guess from the musical's title, Sullivan admitted there are "a couple of double entendres...but never anything completely outspoken" in the tale.

The original "Pump Boys and Dinettes" premiered on Broadway in February of 1982, eventually showing 573 times. It also played in London for a year and for several years in Chicago.

The musical instruments being used in Theatre! Statesville's rendition have been lent to the nonprofit organization by Statesville Jewelry & Loan owner John Marshall. The instruments will be silent auctioned after the last performance, with profits above a base price going toward Theatre! Statesville.

The Iredell Arts Council has been involved with the production of the play, in large part by lending the space of the Old Jail to the acting group. The setting is intimate, and many parts of the play include audience interaction as characters regularly the fourth wall.

In the opening scene, the four mechanics sing a rousing, rock-and-roll tune that includes singing parts from the waitresses. After the song ends, the character of Jim explains to the audience that the body shop has a saying, "Work won't kill you, but worry will."

"Pump Boys and Dinettes" will run between an hour-and-a-half and an hour-and-three-quarters, with a 15-minute intermission at the halfway point.

Want to go?

What: Theatre! Statesville presents musical "Pump Boys and Dinettes"

Where: Old Jail, Iredell Arts Council, 203 S. Meeting St.

When: July 18-20, 7:30 p.m.; July 25-27, 7:30 p.m.; July 21 and 27, 2:30 p.m.

Cost: $10


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