Carolyn McPhee and Emily Mulligan-Ferry in Pump Boys and Dinettes
Carolyn McPhee and Emily Mulligan-Ferry in Pump Boys and Dinettes
Howard Kuflik

Theater Scene

Pump Boys and Dinettes: It sounds like the name of an orgiastic furniture store, but Pump Boys and Dinettes is a musical tribute to life by the roadside — along Highway 57, to be exact — somewhere between fictional Frog Level and the town of Smyrna. Original rock- and country-flavored tunes with clever names like “The Night Dolly Parton Was Almost Mine” and “Be Good or Be Gone” get tossed back and forth among four grease monkeys at a gas station (the “pump boys” of the title) and the waitresses across the street at the Double Cupp Diner, until every last song setup is exhausted and everyone goes home. Through September 9 at Arizona Broadway Theatre, 7701 West Paradise Lane in Peoria. Call 623-776-8400 for times and ticket prices, or visit for song samples and further information.

Beehive: What would summer in Phoenix be without an endless parade of jukebox musicals? Beehive is that genre’s queen and, like the monsoon, it arrives every year — usually in August and usually at a wee theater that can’t afford a book musical this time of year. Broadway Palm tends to have bigger budgets and better production values, which is good news for people whose out-of-town visitors want to take in a show this month. This musical tribute to girl singers of the ’60s is built for anyone who thinks a vinyl minidress and a towering bouffant are hilarious, or those who get all goose-pimply during the chorus of “The Beat Goes On” and teary-eyed recalling Pet Clark doing “Downtown.” There’s girl-group patter to fill the spaces between the dozens of memorable pop hits here, which include “Wishin’ and Hopin’,” “Don’t Sleep In the Subway,” and “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me.” Broadway Palm, located at 5247 East Brown Road in Mesa, plans to keep this one afloat through September 22. Tickets are $43-$52 including the dinner buffet, or $25 for the show only. Call 480-325-6700 for more information.

Fahrenheit 451: Ray Bradbury adapted his groundbreaking novel into a play in the late 1970s, although it didn’t make it to the stage until almost a decade later. This local production marks the debut of Chyro Theatre, a group of evacuees from the now-defunct Is What It Is Theatre that is promising (mostly by way of a series of earnest YouTube commercials) to do something “different” with local theater. Although its première season includes Butterflies Are Free (argh!), it’s starting out with this much-less-seen number about freedom of speech, youth violence, and the evils of censorship. Co-founder Tom Leveen is directing and playing the lead; most of the rest of the cast is made up of newcomers. The group’s newly renovated space is located in Scottsdale’s Papago Plaza, 1330 North Scottsdale Road. Fahrenheit 451 plays through August 25; for ticket prices and more information, call 602-348-0928. To watch Chyro commercials and learn more about the new troupe, visit


Pump Boys and Dinettes, Beehive, Fahrenheit 451 and Death Trap

Death Trap: Ira Levin’s popular and very creepy tale about the lengths to which theater people will go to get a good review is back, this time in Scottsdale and directed by KatiBelle Collins. Levin’s better work includes Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives, but Death Trap remains his biggest hit, as well as one of Broadway’s all-time most successful productions. It asks us to care about down-on-his-luck playwright Sidney Bruhl, who’s maybe willing to kill to get another stage hit. Let’s hope that Collins is as good a director as she is an actor (her unforgettably dreadful turn in Menopause: The Musical notwithstanding). The show runs through August 25 at the Actor’s Café, 4720 North Scottsdale Road. The curtain goes up at 7:30 on Fridays and Saturdays; tickets cost $20 to $25. Call 480-483-1664 for reservations.


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