Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 25, 2014

‘Pump Boys & Dinettes’ serving up homestyle entertainment

Jun 09, 2014
PHOTO SUBMITTED The American Gothic Performing Arts Festival is presenting “Pump Boys and Dinettes” Friday through Sunday at the McHaffey Opera House in Eldon during the city’s annual Gothic Days Celebration. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m.  Friday and Sunday, with a 2 p.m. matinee Saturday.

OTTUMWA — The American Gothic Performing Arts Festival is presenting “Pump Boys and Dinettes” Friday through Sunday at the McHaffey Opera House in Eldon during the city’s annual Gothic Days Celebration.

Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Sunday, with a 2 p.m. matinee Saturday.

On Highway 57, somewhere between Frog Level and Smyrna, stands a gas station. Across the blacktop is a roadside eater called the Double Cupp Diner. The four guys at the station, Jim, Jackson, L.M. and Eddie, have been known to do some auto repairs, but only when aided by large quantities of time and beer. The Cupp sisters, Prudie and Rhetta, celebrate their home cooking alongside their boys with the same zeal they bring to being neighborly with the boys.

Together, the pump boys and dinettes fashion an evening of music that has received unanimous raves on and off Broadway for more than 30 years. It is a feel-good, toe-tapping musical tribute to “life by the roadside.”

“It’s part musical, part concert, part review and part theater, said Dennis Willhoit, music director for the show and president of the performing arts festival, “but most importantly, it’s 100 percent amazing as our pump boys and dinettes transform their otherwise boring day into an occasion our audiences will be talking about for months.”

The cast includes Riley O’Brien as the affable Jim, owner of the gas station along with his partner L.M. played by Mitch Usasz. Tyler Breeding is Jackson, who is smitten with a local Woolworth cashier and Eddie, played by Kyle Romerman, who once dated a Hollywood actress, now spends most of his time working on his Edsel. Natalie Saunders and Kami Roemerman round out the cast as Prudie and Rhetta Cupp, proprietors of the Double Cupp Diner. The production is directed by Miriam Kenning.

This is the opening festival production for the American Gothic Performing Arts Festival in a series of four shows that run through July 6 with upcoming performances of “Hairspray,” “The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra, Go!” and an operatic adaptation of “The Billy Goat’s Gruff.” Shows feature actors, musicians and production staff from around the Midwest including Ottumwa, Fairfield, Oskaloosa, Des Moines, Chicago, Cincinnati and St. Louis.

General admission tickets are $10 and available online at www.americangothicfest.org or by calling 641-777-9636. In Eldon, tickets may be purchased at city hall and the American Gothic House Center. In Ottumwa, tickets may be purchased at the American Gothic Performing Arts Festival office.

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