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Twenty-five years ago, in 1988, Youngstown was still dealing with the collapse of the steel industry when six local residents in their early 20s decided to perform the musical “Pump Boys and Dinettes.”
It would end up being the city’s longest running show in history, with 200 shows in two years. And starting on Friday night, the original Easy Street Productions cast will reunite for a two-weekend run at the Ford Family Recital Hall at the DeYor Performing Arts Center in downtown Youngstown.
“So I told everybody, or at least I hinted about two years ago that I would love to do for the 25th anniversary a reunion of ‘Pump Boys and Dinettes.’ And it just worked out,” said Easy Street Productions co-founder Todd Hancock during a recent rehearsal.
Hancock and Maureen Collins are Easy Street Productions. They, along with Rick Blackson, still live around Youngstown. However, Jeff Sanders is in Chicago, Robyn McCamy is in Nashville and Don Creque is in Las Vegas.
For some, the decision to do a reunion show was not easy.
“I’d been really wanting to do it and recreating this reunion was going to be wonderful. But I had a real job,” McCamy said.
“I immediately thought about all the practical reasons why I shouldn’t do it. Work and new home and all kinds of things going on. I didn’t know what I’d be putting myself through,” Blackson said.
Sitting at the set’s counter with Maureen Collins there are flashbacks from 25 years ago and the long run at the Uptown Theater.
“This is where we started. This is where I first fell in love with my job,” Collins said.
“Looking back on it now you realize how blessed we were,” Sanders said.
Don Creque grew up within walking distance of the Uptown Theater. He remembers those 200 shows as fun.
“People would go out and they would bring their neighbors, they would bring their cousins. And they would go get friends and before you know it, that’s what it was all about, people saying ‘I saw this, you go to come see it’,” Creque said.
There won’t be 200 shows this time. It will run this weekend and next weekend for a total of seven shows. It opens at 8 p.m. Friday, which is a sold-out show.
Saturday night’s show starts at 10:30 p.m. to lure in the downtown crowd. The final show this weekend is 7 p.m. Sunday, but it will continue at 8 p.m. May 1o and 11, and at 2:30 p.m. May 11 and 12.
For tickets, call Easy Street Productions at 330-743-8555.