One can always see the inspiration of classic vaudeville comedy in Neil Simon’s plays. Snappy repartee, the straight man set up, off-the-cuff gags, the bawdiness and the physicality are always just under the surface, and in “The Sunshine Boys” the great playwright has brought it out into the light.
Cranbrook Community Theatre’s final production of the season — Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys” — brings the spirit of vaudeville to the Cranbrook stage, emerging from the past for one last comic turn. It opens tonight, Friday, April 27, at the Studio Stage Door in Cranbrook.
“The Sunshine Boys” tells the story of the vaudevillian comic team of the same name, Al Lewis and Willie Clark, now long retired and still consumed by the animosity they feel towards one another, after a half century as a legendary comic duo.
This is especially true of Willie (played by Alexander Gilmour), who is entering his old age unhappily and ungraciously, unwilling to admit that his career is dead and buried, his comedy a thing of the past. He hasn’t performed with Al Lewis (played by Jim Cameron) for 11 years, ever since they split suddenly and acrimoniously.
Willie’s nephew and agent Ben (played by Landon Elliott) has arranged a Sunshine Boys reunion — for a “History of Comedy” television special. The spirit of Vaudeville takes the stage again, with the Sunshine Boys’ signature act. But can the two pull off a reunion without destroying each other?
There is always a hint of life’s tragedies under Simon’s humour, and there is always a search for redemption, usually with a peculiar twist.
“The Sunshine Boys” is directed by Bob McCue, and produced by Sally Masters. Featuring Alexander Gilmour, Jim Cameron, Landon Elliott, Melodie Hull, Carter Gulseth, Emily Bohmer and Jelena Jensen.
The play opens Friday, April 27, and runs April 27, May 3-6 and May 9-12. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m., except the Sunday, May 6 matinee at 2 p.m.
Tickets available at Lotus Books.