The 'all-American' musical Pump Boys and Dinettes in London starring Joe Brown and Lynsey de Paul
Pump Boys and Dinettes takes a witty and affectionate look at American life through the eyes of six friends who run the local gas station and diner on Highway 57. This show tells their story through irresistible music and easy relaxed charm.
In 1981 a group of six Americans wrote and performed in an off-Broadway theatre show called Pump Boys and Dinettes. It received rave notices and transferred on to Broadway itself in February 1982 where it enjoyed a successful run up to June 1983. Now at last, this sensational popular musical comes to London's West End, after a sell-out national tour with a multi-talented group of well known and admired performers from the worlds of music and theatre, creating a new and exciting show.
The cast features, from Monday 25 March 1985, Joe Brown and Lynsey de Paul with Jeremy Clyde, Chad Stuart, Peter Duncan and Clodagh Rodgers. Written by John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, John Schimmel and Jim Wann. Directed by David Taylor with designs by Tim Goodchild. The original cast up to Saturday 23 March 1985 featured Paul Jones and Kiki Dee with Brian Protheroe, Gary Holton, Carlene Carter and Julian Littman.
"Pump Boys and Dinettes are merely all-American icons: the boys who put gas into cars and do a little light repairing at the Highway 57 station, and the tantalising girls who give our hot chilli, cool quips, and medium tasty hamburgers in the adjacent diners. They provide service and sexiness, sometimes vice-versa or both, though the sextet of American writers who have seen them as the stuff that makes up a musical, ensure they are all as wholesome as apple pie. And it is hard to discover much more to the occasion than 22 loveable songs. The Piccadilly Theatre's auditorium has all been done out as plasterboard, sloganising America, flags and fairy lights and a festooning of signs which advise, for example, 'Pump Boys Say Drive Gently' or, mysteriously 'Fire Alarm Chilli'. Tim Goodchild's design, a conflation of garish diner and garage forecourt, is as trenchantly evocative as the music... David Taylor's production is content to be homely and rightly seeks to prove that an escape to mythical America is just now ideal for the glum British." The Guardian
"Pump Boys began life off-Broadway as a song programme and then acquired characters and a setting when it moved up town. That is all it needs. The idea is to make you feel you have pulled up for a fresh tank and a slice of pecan pie and decided to stick around to enjoy the company... Paul Jones' Big Jim and his boys and girls are living the life of Riley on Highway 57: swapping lazy hick-town gossip, staging raffles for the customers instead of getting on with the job, and belting out first class country music for their own pleasure and for anyone who happens to drop in. Dressed in grimy overalls, they handle their guitars like wheel-braces, and even the upright piano has the look of a battered piece of office furniture... There are rock numbers, like the opening 'Highway 57' that takes off with such a warm-fuelled roar that the company have trouble grounding them. There are ballads. Rhythm and Blues numbers, barber shop quartets: most of them supporting lyrics about tips, bad-mannered customers, items on the day's menu, and the yearning for blue skies and sunlit beaches... The achievement of the show is to present this stunted existence as an image of the good life." The Times
Pump Boys and Dinettes in London at the Piccadilly Theatre previewed from 13 September 1984, opened on 20 September 1984 and closed on 8 June 1985, transferred to the Noel Coward Theatre on 11 June 1985 and closed on 7 September 1985