Little Theatre of Alexandria The Sunshine BoysBy Laura & Mike Clark • Sep 12th, 2007 • Category: Reviews
Listen to our review of the Little Theatre of Alexandria’s production of The Sunshine Boys [MP3 5:45 2.6MB].
Mike: I had a really good time at this how. It was very funny. The timing and the pacing were very nicely done.
Laura: Yes, I agree. I really liked the timing, especially the two main actors Willy Clark and Al Lewis. They just have such a rapport and such a banter between the two of them. It was really enjoyable and fun to watch.
Mike: It really was nice. The LTA theatre is very intimate since you’re right there at the stage. That helped because all of the scenes were taking place in a very small area. It worked quite well to be such a small theater.
The Sunshine Boys is a play by Neil Simon. It focuses on aging Al Lewis and Willy Clark, a vaudevillian team known as Lewis and Clark. Over the course of 40-odd years not only grew to grew to hate each other, but never even spoke to each other off stage during the final year of their act. Clark, who was not ready for retirement, resented Lewis for breaking up the act when he opted to leave show business. It is now 1972 and a tv network is inviting the team to reunite for a special on a history of comedy. The pair would be representing Vaudeville era at it’s best. Clark in convinced by his nephew Ben to revive one of the old routines one last time. Much of the humor is derived from efforts to get the two cantankerous old actors into the same room for a rehearsal. Their differences of opinion once they reunite and their shenanigans on the actual broadcast.
Laura: The first of the pair of the vaudevillians, Willy Clark, was played by Joe Jenckes. He was really fun. He had some great expressions. You could tell that he was the mover. He was the one that didn’t want to sit still. He was always the one trying to get that job; get that act, even though he was past his prime. He was always out there wanting to get things done.
Mike: It was fun watching him. He really wasn’t as active as he thought he was. His nephew Ben, played by Jim Carmalt, was also his agent. Willy kept saying, “I need a part! I need a part!” Nobody wanted him anymore because he couldn’t remember his lines. He would say that he could remember his lines it was just a stupid product name. He had lots of great lines in that scene. I had a good time watching him.
Laura: I felt for Ben. He was in a really frustrating spot. Wanting to basically take care of his uncle without being condescending. His coming over to the house and realizing that his uncle had not been outside, had not put clothes on in however many days, wasn’t eating. That frustration that was in his voice when he was talking to his uncle was very real and it was really interesting to watch him.
Mike: The other vaudevillian was Al Lewis played by Jan Forbes. He was another fun character. He was totally different from Willy Clark. The opposites attract type thing was definitely visible there. You were not quite sure of how much was frustration of living out in the country even though he said he was not frustrated he was happy living with his family. I had a good time watching him. Al was a little more serious and more business like. He was looking forward to doing the sketch of the tv show whereas Clark wasn’t. I think those scenes were really good. They had a definite rapport between them.
Laura: Al Lewis to me seemed like a kindler gentler person. He had good come backs. Again the rapport between him and Willy Clark was very funny. He seemed nicer, much more the peace maker of the two.
Mike: The Sunshine Boys set was wonderful. It was designed by John Downing. It was a one room set for the first act. It was Willy Clark’s apartment. You could see part of the outdoor hallway. That was actually used quite nicely. When people were coming into the apartment you could feel their frustration and emotions because you could see them. It gave the performers an opportunity because usually that door was hidden and you don’t get to see what’s happening behind the door.
Laura: For act two, we didn’t get up and go out right away. During the performance we thought that somehow the entire set was going to turn around. My thought was that it was going to push back. The scene for act two was at the TV station. It would be brought in from the sides. It turned out that the whole set rotated and behind it was the TV station. I just thought that was really cool.
Mike: It was cool. It was so fascinating to see how they changed the sets. It wasn’t like a round turntable. It was like a half turntable. It was just enormous. I guess the wing space at LTA is enormous to allow them to do that. It was a great use of space. It kept the intimate feeling of the different scenes. I think the show is worth seeing just to see how they did the set.
Laura: The Sunshine Boys is playing through Saturday, September 29th. Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 PM. Sunday matinees at 3 PM at the Little Theatre of Alexandria in Alexandria, Virginia.
Mike: The show is about two hours and 20 minutes with one intermission. We’d also like to invite you to join our mailing list. Just go to ShowBizRadio.net/subscribe/.
Laura: And now, on with the show.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/2036.
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.