Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Pump Boys and Dinettes
Manatee Players

Also see Bill's report on The Golden Apple Dinner Theater's New Home

Nick Spagnuolo, Adam Baker,
William Hellem-Brusso

Manatee Players is currently offering the ever popular Pump Boys and Dinettes in a high energy production directed by Preston Boyd. He really knows his way around this show having played Pump Boy Jackson many moons ago at Asolo Repertory Theater. He very successfully finds the heart in this piece, as well as all the humor.

He is assisted by an outstanding cast. Rodd Dyer is garage owner L.M and plays a mean piano. He solos strongly on "Serve Yourself" and "The Night Dolly Parton Was Almost Mine." Adam Baker as Jim is the lead personality of the piece, serving as narrator and playing guitar. He leads most of the ensemble numbers and solos very effectively on "Mamaw," the remembrance of how Jim's grandmother affected his childhood. It is one of the songs that really adds to the emotional depth of the piece, especially when performed so beautifully. William Hellem-Brusso as Jackson plays guitar and solos on "Mona," and Nick Spagnuolo as Eddie plays string bass and Fender bass. Hellem Brusso's physical deportment reminded me a little of a teenager imagining he is playing in a rock band, which shows us the character's gawky side. As the Cupp sisters, the Dinettes of the title, Dawn Dougherty plays Rhetta and Tara Callandra plays her sister Prudie. They have great chemistry together, especially in their dancing, where they share similar mannerisms the way sisters might. Everyone sings well, together and as part of the ensemble.

Costumes by Georgina Willmott are outstanding, lots of little details help define the characters, place and time. The set design by Donna Buckalter also is a huge plus. In Jim and L.M.'s garage there are many indications of the Texaco brand, including on several fan belts hanging above the actors. All the technical aspects, including Mike Woods' lighting design, add a great deal to the production.

This is an outstanding presentation of a musical that has become a regular visitor to community and regional theaters because of its wonderful score and lovable characters.

L.M.: Rodd Dyer
Jim: Adam Baker
Jackson: William Hellem-Brusso
Eddie: Nick Spagnuolo
Prudie Cupp: Tara Callandra
Rhetta Cupp: Dawn Dougherty

Manatee Players presents Pump Boys and Dinettes at The Riverfront Theater through November 11, 102 12th St W, Bradenton; 941 748-0111,

Photo: Tiffany Tompkins-Condie/Bradenton Herald

See the current season schedule for West Coast Florida

--William S. Oser

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