I’m always excited to go to the theater. Doesn’t matter whether I see a movie or a play—I love sitting in front of the stage. If that makes me a theater snob, so be it. I also have a touch of Attention Deficit Disorder; I require real and substantial entertainment to keep me in my seat for more than an hour.
I spent more than that time sitting very satisfied at the Iao Theater last week. I was there to see Pump Boys and Dinettes, the new Maui OnStage musical that plays through July 31. Always the early bird, I arrived no less than 45 minutes before the scheduled start. As I went through the entrance a sweet woman in a wispy blue dress—I later found out she was Maui OnStage Executive Director Darla Palmer—handed me a program and a little red raffle ticket.
After scanning the seating selection, I found my favorite spot vacant and grabbed it. Always the dork, I prefer to sit front and center. It makes perfect sense: not only was I up close, but the walkway was directly behind me, so no one could sit behind me and kick my seat. I told you, I’m a snob about the theater.
They had music playing as I sat down. I smiled as Johnny Cash came on singing, “I Walk The Line.” One side of the stage was decorated to look like a 1950s-style diner, complete with chrome stools sporting red and white vinyl seats. A garage band set up on the other side. All along the front of the stage were microphones, which promised lots of singing. At this point I was ready to give my full attention to the show, but since I had arrived so early I still had a good 20 minutes to kill.
To pass the time, I read the entire program, studying the backgrounds of the actors while I listened to the tunes.
Since I am such a theater snob, I know that nothing ever begins on time, but I always get frustrated if they go past my 10-minute, “Okay maybe our clocks are just set different” grace period. At 7:32—told you, I’m a stickler about these things—Palmer went on stage and introduced the play. I relaxed, and the crowd quieted down.
A group of four guys walked on stage. One began speaking to the audience while the rest tuned their instruments and got comfortable in their places. Jim (the character addressing the crowd, played by John Messersmith) explained that we needed to keep our raffle tickets for the chance to win a prize after the intermission. Then they burst into song as the two girls that run the Double Cupp Diner came out and joined the fellas.
The female characters are Rhetta and Prudie Cupp. Brenna Gerke, who plays Prudie, is a middle school teacher from Lahaina. Cat Hayes, playing Rhetta, sports quite a list of past professional performances. Now, the guys were great and I don’t want to take away from their zeal, but Gerke and Hayes blew me away. Their crooning gave me chills. Hayes has an amazing voice and you can tell she’s comfortable onstage.
The boys make up a comic group. Jim is sort of the guide throughout the story. Eddie (Dan Minichiello) is the strong, silent type at the drums. Jackson (Robbie Ray) is the group’s proclaimed “ladies man.” Last, but not least, is L.M. (Les Adam), who looks like a hippie but with The Fonz’s attitude.
There were plenty of toe-tapping songs, clever plays on words and a great dance routine by the ladies with lots of interaction from the crowd. The show was long—40 minutes before the intermission and another 30 to 40 after, but I never felt compelled to check my watch. MTW