by April Helms
Special Products Editor
Pure, light summer fun.
That's the best way to describe "Pump Boys and Dinettes," on stage at Porthouse Theatre in Cuyahoga Falls. There's no weighty plot in this show. Just a lot of mostly light-hearted country-style music, with the actors both singing and playing a variety of instruments, from guitar and piano to accordion and kitchen utensils (yes, kitchen utensils). Also, there's a chance for some lucky audience members to be served a slice of apple pie from the dinettes at the Double Cupp Diner (those who miss out can purchase a slice at the concession stand).
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
An ensemble of six portray the pump boys, who sell gas on Highway 57, and the dinettes, two sisters who run the Double Cupp Diner next door. Together, they play music, reminisce ... and occasionally bicker. The show stars Chris Blisset as the likable -- if sometimes clueless -- Jim; W. James Koeth as the "ladies' man, Jackson; Ian Lowe as the piano-playing L.M.; Laura Beth Wells as the sophisticated (well, sometimes) Rhetta, Laura Cook of Solon as the easily-awed Prudie and Gary Thobaben of Berea as ... Eddie, who defies description.
The songs are mostly light, with tunes such as "The Night Dolly Parton Was Almost Mine," and even downright silly, such as "Farmer Tan." There are a couple of more serious numbers, such as "Maw Maw," a sweet tribute to Jim's grandmother, but irreverence is the main feature of this production.
The ensemble is packed with talented actors, all whom can sing, play a variety of instruments (often in creative ways) and move well. The full ensemble numbers especially rang through the audience like a well-tuned automobile.
Parents with younger children should be warned that there are a few references to drug use in the show and mild language.
This summer, Porthouse Theatre has partnered with Stewart's Caring Place, said artistic director Terri Kent. Located in Akron, Stewart's Caring Place is a place where those affected by cancer and their families will find support information and a wide array of free programs and services.
During the opening weekend of "Sweet Charity," which runs from July 26 through Aug. 12, $4 of each full-price ticket purchased will go directly to Stewart's Caring Place. All season long, 10 percent of all concessions purchased will go to Stewart's.
For more information, call 330-836-1772 or visit www.stewartscaringplace.org online.
Ticket and show information
Shows run Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $22 through $26 for adults; $18 through $26 for seniors; and $14 through $16 for students. To order tickets, visit www.porthousetheatre.com or call 330-672-2497
The Thornbury Picnic Pavilion is available for reservation for picnickers to enjoy their packed picnic or preordered box dinner before the show. Single ticket purchasers are required to pay $1 per person to reserve the pavilion.
In addition, box dinners will again be available for preorder. Acme Fresh Market Catering and Totally Cooked Catering will provide box dinners this year. Items will range in cost between $11 and $15. Menus are available online or at the box office. The dinners can be ordered when ordering tickets or 48 hours prior to the performance. In addition, concessions of hot and cold beverages and snacks will again be available as well. For more information, call 330-672-3884.
Phone: 330-688-0088 ext. 3153