THE SUNSHINE BOYSby Neil Simon
Directed by - Tony Adams
Stage Manager - Chase Livingston
Assistant Stage Manager - Shaun J. Walsh
Set Designer - Tony Adams, Howard Korn
Lighting and Sound Designer - Tony Adams
Costume Designer - Deborah Jaskolka
Prop Designer/ Mistress - Deborah Jaskolka
Willie Clark - Howard Korn
Ben Silverman - Bob Zak
Al Lewis - Ben Westfried
Patient in sketch - Shaun J. Walsh
Phil Schaefer's voice - Tony Adams
Eddie - Chase Livingston
Voice of TV announcer - Frank Rosamond
Nurse in sketch - Shelley Ohmes
Registered Nurse O- Neil- Judith Johnson
Reviewed Performance: 6/3/2012
Reviewed by Heather Alverson, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The Sunshine Boys by Neil Simon is a slap stick comedy about two vaudeville actors that reunite in 1972 to perform on a variety show for CBS. Al Lewis and Willie Clark have over 40 years of experience working together as the best vaudeville act in town. Unfortunately, Lewis decided to give the gig up during a dispute on The Ed Sullivan Show, and fulfill his purpose in life as a stock broker. Clark resents Lewis for leaving, and decides to never speak to him again.
A decade passes by and Clark in his old age still despises Lewis. Clark's nephew, Ben Silverman, works not only as his agent but primary care taker. Clark has some health issues, but still demands that Ben find him a job because as an actor, he has to act. Ben finally receives a call from CBS offering Clark a job in the variety show, but the only problem is that he has to perform the famous "doctor sketch" with longtime partner Al Lewis.
Clark refuses at first to even consider doing the act until his nephew, and an exceptional paycheck from CBS changes his mind. Lewis and Clark reunite with the obstacle of figuring out a way to work through all their differences so that the show can go on.
The witty banter between Lewis and Clark, and the vaudeville act is hysterical. There is no doubt that every audience member will have a great laugh. Neil Simon takes audiences on a comical journey through the reality of getting older, show business, and the people you encounter in between.
Howard Korn gives audiences a sensational Willie Clark. Korn brings a grumpy old man with a passion for show business to life. His timing for jokes was flawless and naturally rolled off his tongue. He gave every character hell, and yet the audience still feels moments of empathy for him.
Ben Westfried could not have been a better choice to play Al Lewis. Westfried gave hilarious facial expressions, and even his posture in certain scenes enhanced the performance. There were moments when he was not talking, but you could not take your eyes off of him because he was so engaged in the scene.
Korn and Westfried have brilliant chemistry on stage together. The two men create wonderful characters that are always competing with one another to show who is the better man, and better actor. There are endless comments and arguments while the characters try to remember certain people, certain places, and even what they are doing. These actors properly express the adjustment of getting older and the determination that it will not slow them down. Timing, delivery, and physicality are no problem for these two leading men.
Bob Zak plays a delightful Ben Silverman. Zak brings an ease to the show with a character that wants to help Clark, and genuinely loves his uncle. Zak plays a variety of different emotions from frustration, to love, respect, and care. The delivery that Zak gives is very relatable because almost all of us have dealt with aging relatives and the emotional and physical responsibilities that brings.
Judith Johnson is the in-home Nurse O'Neill at the end of the show, and gave just the right amount of attitude and strength to the character. It was very interesting to see a character that could finally give Clark a run for his money. Johnson worked great with Howard Korn setting the final tone of the show.
Chase Livingston has great energy as Eddie the stage manager, and you felt sorry that he had to work with these two ludicrous actors. Shelley Ohmes plays the nurse in the doctor's sketch and brings certain assets to the show that makes audience members blush and literally laugh out loud. Other ensemble members such as Shaun J. Walsh, Tony Adams, and Frank Rosamond augmented the show by playing a role in the doctor sketch, and live voice overs.
Costumes by Deborah Jaskolka worked well for the show. One of the most memorable is Clark's blue sports coat he wears over his pajamas. Tony Adams did an exquisite job not only directing, but designing lights, the set, and sound. The set was simplistic, but had little details of old photo graphs, vintage vaudeville posters, and a small television set to establish the time period. The sound and live voice overs flowed very well with the show, and if you really listened the music continued the "play on words" theme. The old Lipton Tea commercial was a nice addition to the show staying true to the era.
The pace at the start of the show seemed a little slow. The conversation between Clark and Ben runs a little long in the first scene. The energy does not really pick up until Lewis entered. There were also moments where the actors stumbled over their lines. It really did not affect the show since it was during moments of frustration or forgetfulness.
Despite any minor slip-ups Frisco Community Theatre put on a really good show. If you want a good laugh with an array of comedy don't miss The Sunshine Boys. This is unquestioningly a show with lots of talent, quality, and laughs.
Frisco Community Theatre
The Black Box Theatre in Frisco Discovery Center
8004 N. Dallas Parkway, Suite 200, Frisco, TX 75034
Plays through June 17th
Fridays and Saturdays- 8:00 p.m.
Sunday matinees- 2:30 p.m.
Tickets are $15-$19 and can be purchased online at www.friscocommunitytheatre.com.
For information, call 972-370-2266.