The Sunshine Boys
Al and Willie as “Lewis and Clark” were top-billed vaudevillians for over forty years. Now they aren’t even speaking. When CBS requests them for a “History of Comedy” retrospective, a grudging reunion brings the two back together, along with a flood of memories, miseries, and laughs.
Besides reworking their sketch, the two men have numerous issues to work out before they are ready to return to the public eye. One of Neil Simon’s best comedies!
The Sunshine Boys is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Inc., a Concord Theatricals Company.
January 17 - February 2, 2020
8:00 PM (6:00 Dinner) – Jan 17, 18, 24, 25, 31; Feb 1
7:00 PM (5:00 Dinner) – Jan 19, 26; Feb 2
$60, all included (dinner, show, taxes).
Best Western Plus Cobourg Inn & Convention Centre
930 Burnham St., Cobourg
Call 905-372-2105 to reserve your seat, or stop by the Best Western front desk.
Ask about group discounts.
The play's protagonists are Al Lewis and Willie Clark. Lewis and Clark were once a successful vaudevillian comedy duo known as the Sunshine Boys. During the later years of their 43-year run, animosity between the partners grew to the point where they ceased to speak with each other. Eleven years prior to the events of the play, Al retired from show business, leaving Willie struggling to keep his career afloat.
Willie, now an old man struggling with memory loss, reluctantly accepts an offer from his nephew Ben, a talent agent, to reunite with Al for a CBS special on the history of comedy. Willie and Al meet in Willie's apartment to rehearse their classic doctor and tax collector sketch. The reunion gets off to a bad start, with the two getting into heated arguments over various aspects of the performance. However, thanks to the urging of Al's daughter, the two decide to go through with the performance.
Willie and Al's dress rehearsal at CBS' studio ends badly. Willie is enraged when Al repeats his old habits of poking his chest and accidentally spitting on his face. As Al walks off the stage in regret, Willie has a heart attack as a result of his agitated state.
Two weeks later, Willie is recovering under the care of a nurse. Upon Ben's recommendation, he decides to move into an actors' retirement home in New Jersey. Al, concerned about Willie's well-being, makes a visit. When the two talk, it is revealed that Al will be moving into the same home as Willie.
Neil Simon was inspired by two venerable vaudeville teams. The longevity of "Lewis and Clark" was inspired by Smith and Dale who, unlike their theatrical counterparts, were inseparable lifelong friends. The undercurrent of backstage hostility between "Lewis and Clark" was inspired by the team of Gallagher and Shean, who were successful professionally but argumentative personally. Other sources say this is based on Weber and Fields.
Courtsey of Wikipedia, used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike Licence 3.0.
Cast & Creative Team
Rob Davidson, Play Reviewer
Ask any long-married couple and they’ll tell you: partnerships are hard. Ask the survivors of divorce and they’ll likely say breakups are harder.
Ask any comedians and they’ll probably tell you comedy partnerships are the hardest of all.
Neil Simon’s play "The Sunshine Boys" tells the story of comedy duo Lewis and Clark (loosely based on the real life comics Smith and Dale) who haven’t spoken to each other in 11 years after shattering a 43 year partnership that made them vaudeville stars.
Like so many other breakups the reasons for the split are a little silly: during performances Al Lewis (played by Christopher Sharp) tended to poke his finger a little too hard into the chest of his partner Willie Clark (Neil Torrie). He also had a tendency to spit in Willie’s face when he said any words beginning with “T”. So when Willie’s nephew/agent, Ben (played with energy and enthusiasm by Richard Kirwin), presents an offer from CBS TV for a reunion, finding a way around old hurts and resentments becomes a major problem.
Simon wrote "The Sunshine Boys" in the early 70’s and director Robert Bailey has resolutely kept the play in the correct period, including having Kirwin’s Ben sport alarming sideburns and hilariously dubious fashions choices. But the story hangs on the two main characters and when Lewis and Clark finally get around to re-creating their famous “Doctor” sketch the solid chemistry between Torrie and Sharp helps us believe these two have performed this same routine thousands of times. Both actors are firing all their cylinders in this production and their teamwork is a pleasure to watch. Jody Ledgerwood is also hilarious as the “sex kitten” nurse while Carol Beauchamp hits just the right tone of indignation and exasperation as the “real” nurse. Both Grant Coward and Garret Lee are solid as unsuspecting spectators caught in the middle of a buzz saw of old resentments and anger.
This is a highly entertaining production with just the right balance of jokes and pathos.
"Hilarious and moving show, Neil Simon at his peak! Brilliant performance as well."Andrew K, Patron
"Thoroughly enjoyable. So great to not have to drive far for great theatre."Jill L, Patron
The Best Western Plus Cobourg
The Best Western Plus Cobourg Inn & Convention Centre is located at the corner of Burnham/William St. and Elgin St.
930 Burnham St.
Dinner is served 2 hours prior to the start of the performance (6pm for 8pm shows; 5pm for 7pm shows). Enjoy a full carvery buffet, delicious desserts, and a bar!