July 17, 2014

A little strip of lonesome highway somewhere in the South in has plopped down at City Center, where a flavorsome revival of the chicken-fried musical revue Pump Boys and Dinettes plays through Saturday as part of the Encores! Off-Center series. Should you pull off the road for a fill-up, a Coke and a piece of pie, you’ll find amiable company in the show’s beaming cast members, who make like a big old human jukebox as they sing of the daily grind in a gas station (the pump boys) and the roadside coffee shop nearby (the dinettes). First seen Off Broadway in 1981, the musical was a homespun collaboration among the men and women who performed it. The book, music and lyrics are by John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, John Schimmel and Jim Wann — all of whom were on hand to celebrate on Wednesday’s opening night. The little show moved uptown the next year, to big bad Broadway, where it ran for more than a year and subsequently spawned countless regional and amateur theater stagings. (A planned Broadway revival announced a couple of seasons ago never materialized.)