Comedy by Neil Simon. 'Kings of Comedy', Willie Clark and Al Lewis AKA 'The Sunshine Boys' haven't spoken to each other in years. When CBS call for the vaudevillian greats to be re-united for a television special, past grudges resurface as they take centre stage once more. Ageing ailments aside can this legendary double-act overcome their differences for one last show?... Old rivalry and vintage hilarity abound in this classic comedy of showbiz and friendship.
Neil Simon's classic comedy The Sunshine Boys was originally staged on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre in December 1972, going on to run for 16 months. The film version, starring Walter Matthau as 'Willie Clark' and George Burns as 'Al Lewis' was released in 1975, winning an Oscar for 'Best Actor in A Supporting Role for George Burns.
Original London West End Production - Piccadilly Theatre 1975
Previewed 1 May 1975, Opened 7 May 1975, Closed 12 July 1975 at the Piccadilly Theatre
The cast featured Jimmy Jewel as 'Willie Clark' and Alfred Marks as 'Al Lewis' with Stuart Damon as 'Ben Silverman', Isabelle Lucas as 'Registered Nurse', Isabella Rye as 'Nurse', Billy J Mitchell as 'Eddy' and Eddie Reindeer as 'Patient'. Directed by Danny Simon with design by Christopher Morley and lighting by Brian Harris.
1st London West End Revival - Savoy Theatre 2012
Previewed 27 April 2012, Opened 17 May 2012, Closed on 28 July 2012 at the Savoy Theatre in London
A major revival of Neil Simon's classic comedy The Sunshine Boys in London starring Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths
The cast features Danny DeVito as 'Willie Clark' and Richard Griffiths as 'Al Lewis' with Adam Levy as 'Ben Silverman', Johnnie Fiori as 'Registered Nurse', Rebecca Blackstone as 'Miss MacKintosh', Nick Blakeley as 'Eddie', Peter Cadden as 'Patient' and William Maxwell as 'Patient'. Directed by Thea Sharrock with designs by Hildegard Bechtler, lighting by Neil Austin, music by Adrian Johnston and sound by Ian Dickinson.
Richard Griffiths' London theatre credits include the role of 'Martin Dysart' in Thea Sharrock's revival of Peter Shaffer's Equus, opposite Daniel Radcliffe as 'Alan Strang', at the Gielgud Theatre in 2007 and the role of 'Henri' in Thea Sharrock's production of Gerald Sibleyras' Heroes, opposite John Hurt as 'Gustave' and Ken Stott as 'Philippe' at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2005.
"It's hard to imagine a gentler, more congenial way to while away time in the theatre than watching The Sunshine Boys, Neil Simon's homage to the golden days of vaudeville. It does his cause no harm to have two actors - Richard Griffiths and Danny DeVito - in the lead roles who could wring comedy out of reading the telephone directory. Put them together with the dry Bronx wit and cool pacing of Simon's script and you have something equating to theatrical gold dust... DeVito hasn't acted on stage since 1972. In Thea Sharrock's effortless production, it doesn't show. From the moment the curtain opens on him half-asleep in front of his ancient television he dominates the theatre - undemonstratively, shambolically, as if doodling around his home in his own sweet time. I'm not so convinced by Griffiths's Noo Yoik accent, but who cares when he brings such layers of stubbornness and pathos to the bloody-minded relationship, which is like the most complex of marriages?" The Sunday Telegraph
"Exciting as it is to see these two on stage together as Al Lewis and Willie Clark, who stopped talking 11 years before, they never for one second look like the kings of comedy The Sunshine Boys were said to have been. 'Nobody could time a joke the way he could time a joke,' explains Willie to his nephew and agent, Ben, who is trying to persuade him to agree to a get-together with Lewis for a television special. 'Nobody could say a line the way he said it. One person, that's what we were.' Only once do we believe that, in a perfectly choreographed scene when the two are arranging and then rearranging the other's rearrangements of the furniture in Willie's hotel-apartment, to rehearse their famous 'doctor sketch'. Otherwise, in Thea Sharrock's sluggish production, they remain remote and out of sync. There's little pace in their patter - it's as if they are trying to tap-dance in hobnailed boots. The fault is partly with the play itself, which feels dated and takes too long to get going." The Mail on Sunday
The Sunshine Boys in London at the Savoy Theatre previewed from 27 April 2012, opened on 17 May 2012 and closed on 28 July 2012.