Chicago Theatre Review
‘Pump Boys and Dinettes’ Country and Coffee with Theo Ubique
By Devlyn Camp
The No Exit Café has that simple, relaxing atmosphere that is always nice to find in a local coffee shop or diner. Riding on that, Theo Ubique has opened Pump Boys and Dinettes, a country rock musical that played on Broadway in the early 1980s. The show is more of a revue, playing character tunes marked with one-liners and short scenes between. In a ‘50s style, the two Double Cupp Diner waitresses serve the audience and sing along with the boys next door, who work in the Pump Boys garage.
The pianist/actor/music director Jim DeSelm cues the heartthrob in his solo song “Serve Yourself” and continues to impress in later songs. Aside from DeSelm, other musicians typically stand in the background, ignoring their character, playing through the song without any sort of passion. While Dinettes dance, half the band of characters wait for their solo numbers to spark any of their own excitement.
The two diner girls carry most of the show’s energy, using their kitchen utensils as instruments and providing the most entertaining numbers. Danni Smith constantly excites with a heavy, strong voice, especially in the Double Cupp duo’s sexy and funny number “Tips.” Overall, the diner show lacks a certain energy and feels flat throughout, with small glimmers of fun. Above any problems, though, there are strong, bright vocals in even the dullest of numbers. While the characters may seem commonplace to folks of more southern states (like myself), it is still quite charming for all these city dwellers.
PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES
Theo Ubique at No Exit Café
Through January 15, 2012
Tickets $29-34 (optional dinner to add)
Available at theo-u.org
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