Weston’s season opener PUMP BOY AND DINETTES is about to launch its second week, with ticket holders returning for repeat performances! In recent press, critics describe the show as “charming, witty and particularly well-sung” and an “a unpretentious evening of piping-hot, southern-fried jubilation.”
The original Off Broadway production was written in 1981, penned and performed by a group of young actor/musicians living and working in New York. The writing/acting team included John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk, John Schimmel, Jim Wann, and Weston veteran Cass Morgan who, incidentally, is opening her own new work on our OtherStages next month. Scooped quickly, PUMP BOYS ran for nearly 600 Broadway performances with a Tony nomination to its credit.
With a story set on North Carolina’s Highway 57, four likable, musical gas station attendants parlay with two sweet and soulful diner gals. The Pump Boys are Joe Iconis, Seth Eliser, Jason SweetTooth Williams, and Lorenzo Wolff, riffing on keys, sax, acoustic and bass guitars, accordion, and anything else they can get their hands on. They’re joined by “the Double Cupp dinettes,” played by Molly Hager and Grace McLean, who sing, swing, and sling coffee and pie while playing the occasional kitchen utensil.
SETH ELISER is thrilled to be joining the Weston Playhouse for his MainStage debut. When he’s not on stage you can find him around New York making music… cabarets, studio sessions, or live shows with writers and artists like Joe Iconis, Rob Rokicki, Joey Contreras, and the Indie-Pop group MANICANPARTY. Theatre Credits include Hairspray (NCT), The Music Man (Nat’l Tour), Crazy For You (MHT), and 110 In The Shade.
Seth on Pump Boys: My favorite part about being in this production of PB&D is that I get to play and create with some of the most wonderful people I know. Coming into this show without knowing a thing about it was a bit scary, only because the show is heavily music driven by the cast. Learning what talents people had in their toolboxes made the rehearsal period so exciting, fresh, and more of an experiment in seeing how far we could push one another. Rhetta is a DRUMMER NOW!! The creative team is insanely generous with exploring new possibilities for the show, and that has made the process truly fun and organic. So very happy to be a part of the PB&D team!
MOLLY HAGER is making her Weston Playhouse Debut! From her homebase in New York, Molly’s theatre credits include Heathers: The Musical (New World Stages), Fat Camp (Off Broadway, regional & NYMF productions), Cloaked (CAP21), Factory Girls (NAMT). Plus a good bit of film … It’s Kind of a Funny Story (Focus Features), Mad City (with John Travolta and Dustin Hoffman), Goodbye Lover (with Patricia Arquette). And music… “Broadway Here I Come” on The Joe Iconis Rock and Roll Jamboree Album, and the original cast recording of Heathers: The Musical (both on iTunes).
Molly on Pump Boys: My favorite aspect of PB&D is the story of how it was created. Our cast was fortunate enough to have dinner with original cast member Cass Morgan, who explained that the show was created and performed by her and her group of friends. You can really feel the fun and love in this show because of it, and it feels that much more special to be performing in it!
We also asked Molly if she had a specific inspiration for her character, Rhetta Cupp. First of all, Grace McLean and I cooked the best Strawberry Rhubarb Pie EVER last week! Homemade butter crust and everything! That’s gonna be hard to top. Plus, I was a waitress and a bartender for many years in New York City. I can tie an apron on in 2 seconds flat.
Favorite things about Weston, Molly? All I want to do all day is ride my bike and eat cheese at The Vermont Country Store. That place is truly as amazing as everyone says.
JOE ICONIS is a musical theatre writer and a fixture on the New York cabaret scene. Musicals he has authored include Be More Chill (Two River Theater), The Black Suits (Center Theatre Group), and Bloodsong of Love (Ars Nova). Upcoming: Diary of a Wimpy Kid (20th Century Fox/CTC), The Hunter S. Thompson Musical (La Jolla Playhouse), and Annie Golden: Bounty Hunter, Yo! His albums Things To Ruin and The Joe Iconis Rock and Roll Jamboree are available on Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records.
Joe on Pump Boys: My favorite part of Pump Boys in general, is that I so identify with the way the original production was created and I think there is an undeniable connection between the group of artists who made the show and the group of artists who are performing it here at Weston. I love that after the show is over, we all head down to the cabaret and perform original material – it feels like that is such a natural extension of the show itself.
I love being able to make art with the Family of artists I surround myself with so it’s been a truly unbelievable experience for me. Every night feels like an (exhausting, insane, manic) party and I am so grateful that I get to be a part of this whole thing.
Also, I really love the country music of the late 70s/early 80s and this score so gloriously and authentically captures the vibe of that time. I think it’s gotta be the only Broadway musical of all time that has songs that could be covered by The Oak Ridge Boys. It’s an honor and a privilege to get to sing stuff like “Serve Yourself,” and “The Night That Dolly Parton Was Almost Mine.” I am actually a huge Dolly Parton fan, so I identify with the song in a big way.
GRACE MCLEAN Grace McLean & Them Apples opened the 2015 Lincoln Center American Songbook season! She’s thrilled to be here in Weston. Grace’s theatre credits include Brooklynite (The Vineyard), Bedbugs!!! (Carly), The World is Round (BAM), Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, Sleep No More, La MaMa Cantata (La MaMa New York and Spoleto, Italy; Zagreb, Croatia; Belgrade, Serbia), From The Fire (Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2011, MTM Best New Musical), The Last Goodbye (WTF 2010), and Twelve Ophelias (Woodshed Collective).
Grace on Pump Boys, Pie, and favorite diners: l love getting to work with every person in this talented, giving, hardworking cast. It’s my first time working with most of them and I’m always learning from them as we find the show together. And pie? Well, I love an apple cranberry pie at Christmas, but any pie will do! And my favorite diner has to be the Blue Benn. I have a lot of fond memories eating there and playing songs from the juke box.
And what does Grace looks most forward to in Weston? “Weston is a dream! I’ve already jumped in a lake, sat by a fire, and made a pie with rhubarb I picked myself, but I still want to float down a river, see the back of a waterfall, and wander in the woods before I leave!”
JASON SWEETTOOTH WILLIAMS works extensively with Joe Iconis, having appeared in The Black Suits (SPF-The Public Theater), ReWrite (Urban Stages), The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks (theatreworksUSA), Things To Ruin (Second Stage), and the Drama Desk-nominated Bloodsong of Love (Ars Nova), all written by Iconis. Other theatre credits include The Trouble With Doug (CAP 21), Crossing Brooklyn (Transport Group) and Mac Wellman’s Harm’s Way (newFangled theatReR).
Sweettooth on Pump Boys: I love that it was created organically by individuals who were simply making the music they loved. It is authentic to its core. Which is, I think, also a defining characteristic of Joe Iconis and Family. So it feels right. About the production in particular, I get most excited by seeing my friends and costars (who I already knew were wickedly talented) attempting and succeeding at so many things they are trying for the first time. Be it a instrument or a dance move, everyone in this cast is stretching themselves and their abilities in a million directions. It’s thrilling to see, and be a part of.
LORENZO WOLFF started listening to country music before he could walk. His earliest memory is of falling asleep under the table at a Tom Russel show. Since then he’s managed to stay awake enough to perform with Michael Cerveris and Loose Cattle, Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Bill Irwin, and many more. He put out his first solo record last year, available at Lorenzowolff.com. He owns and operates a recording studio in Brooklyn called Restoration Sound, where he has produced artists like Dave Monks, Michael Cerveris, Josh Joplin, etc etc… If you win the raffle, please kiss him on the cheek.
We asked Lorenzo for his favorite part about Pump Boys: My favorite part of the whole production has to be the other actors who let ME play with them. Don’t let his humility fool you. His bass line kills it.
DANIELLE ZANDRI (Production Stage Manager/Assistant Stage Manager) is excited to be back in Weston doing a job she loves! Hew Weston resume includes A Chorus Line, 42nd Street, The 39 Steps, and Fully Committed. Other productions include: Northern Stage Company: Clybourne Park, Orwell In America. GFour Productions: Menopause the Musical. Ocean State Theatre Company: Les Miserables. Trinity Repertory Company: Oliver!, House and Garden, Clybourne Park, Boeing, Boeing, King Lear, Crime and Punishment. The Walnut Street Theatre: The Glass Menagerie, Speaking in Tongues, My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra.
Danielle on Pump Boys: “It’s my first time getting to call a musical, and its fabulous. I love the camaraderie of the cast.”
BEN PFISTER (Stage Management Intern) Ben calls White River Junction, VT home. He’s a graduate of The College of Wooster where he was deeply involved with technical theatre and stage management, and is currently attending the Yale School of Drama as a candidate for an M.F.A. in Stage Management.
We asked Ben what he loved most about Pump Boys, Americana, Diners and Pie… “This show has a phenomenal cast and working with them excites me the most. And pie? Has to be classic pumpkin. The 4 Aces Diner is by far my favorite and Americana, it’s all about the food.
It’s all about the food. The music. The friendship. We’ll never forget this show.