Rockville Little Theatre’s The Sunshine BoysBy Laura & Mike Clark • Jan 26th, 2007 • Category: Reviews
Listen to our review of Rockville Little Theatre’s production of The Sunshine Boys [MP3 5:25 1.6MB].
Mike: The Sunshine Boys is a play by Neil Simon. It’s the story of two vaudevillians who, after 43 years of working together, have had a fight. They haven’t talked to each other for 11 years. CBS wants to do a retrospective look at Vaudeville. They want the two of them to come together and redo one of their most famous numbers together. Of course since they can’t stand each other that’s going to be an uphill battle.So you get to see them coming back together and doing rehearsal for the show and then the actual performance itself. This is a show looking at friendship over time.
Laura: This show is a comedy. There were some funny lines, but over all I felt the timing was off. It did seem to drag out.
Mike: The show was about two and a half hours long with one fifteen minute intermission. It felt a bit longer because there just wasn’t a chemistry between the two main characters, Willie Clark and Al Lewis. Later in the show we did get to see the performance of the Doctor sketch. It just didn’t have the right timing. It really did feel to drag a little bit.
Laura: The role of Willie Clark was played by Bill Spitz. I didn’t think he talked fast enough. It seemed like in his dialogues with Al Lewis he waited for Al to say his line before Bill said his. It just seemed like it dragged on and on.
Mike: I kind of agree with you on that. Al Lewis was played by Philip Brandis. It felt like the timing between the two men in their scenes was just off. It was like they were really listening for the other person for their cues. I wish that could have been a bit quicker. But I’m wondering if they were directed to do those conversations slower since they were playing men in their 70s and 80s.
Laura: I suppose that could be. The scene with the Doctor Will See You Now sketch did have it’s good moments although again I felt they waited for one person to finish their line before the other person started theirs. It wasn’t angry enough. I don’t think it was as funny as it could have been.
Mike: The Doctor Will See You Now sketch was funny. It was amusing, but I think they were waiting for laughter. It was a Sunday afternoon show. There were also a lot of older people there. There was snow coming so a lot of people were distracted. I’m just thinking they were waiting for laughs in parts of it.
Laura: Willie Clark’s Nephew, Ben Silverman, was played by Lew Hages. He was kind of the straight man. I felt throughout the performance that he was just kind of annoyed at these two men and wished they would get it together. He was the agent for Willie Clark so he was always pushing him to get into the spotlight.
Mike: It was a simple set. Act One all took place at Willie Clark’s apartment. That was nicely done. It was not real deep, but it was the whole width of the stage. There was a lot of walking back and forth. Scene One of Act Two took place at the CBS tv studio in a small Dr.’s office. That was a little cramped. They did have to expand out into the stage area for that. Scene Two they were back in Willie’s bedroom a few weeks later. That was a nice scene there because it had lots of room for the nurse and the other people that had to come in for the scene. I think they used the space pretty effectively. Even though it wasn’t complicated it was pretty clear where they were in all these points.
Laura: We were reading the Director’s Notes. The director for The Sunshine Boys was David Levin. In it he talked about friendship and what makes friendships last. I was going to ask you Mike, did you see an example of friendship between Al Lewis and Willie Clark?
Mike: I really liked the closing scene of the show when Willie and Al were sitting in the bedroom talking about their future plans. I really felt like that was when they resolved themselves to being friends and to kind of worrying about each other as to what’s going to happen next. There were of course some funny moments in that conversation which we won’t share, but I liked that scene. It was touching, I liked how it faded to black in the middle of their conversation. It implied they’re going to keep talking. How about you, Laura, what did you think of the friendship aspect in the show?
Laura: The beginning of the show the two men were very stiff towards each other. Like they hadn’t been friends even though they had been for so many years. As the play evolved you started seeing that friendship. I agree with you, Mike, the final scene of the two of them sitting there talking brought back that friendship. They really semed to get along.
Mike: The Sunshine Boys is playing at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre in Rockville Maryland. This weekend it’s going to be Friday and Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday’s closing performance will be at 2 PM.
Laura: And now, on with the show.
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Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.