COM Theater Presenting “The Sunshine Boys”

Posted on: May 17, 2011

COM Theater Presenting “The Sunshine Boys”

The original Grumpy Old Men hit the stage in COM’s production of Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys,” May 12 through June 5. Simon’s gift for comedic dialog shines nowhere so brightly as in “The Sunshine Boys,” which manages the deft trick of being both a comedy as well as a comedy about comedy. The result is an evening of free-flowing laughter with just the right touch of heart to remind us why laughter is such a gift.

The year is 1973, and the hit vaudeville comedy tandem, Willie Clark and Al Lewis, known as the Sunshine Boys, have long since retired their act. Yet for all their on-stage success, their off-stage relationship was as rocky as a mountain trail. Brilliant, sensitive and cantankerous, the two men shelved their decades old act despite Willie’s objection when Al simply couldn’t tolerate the highs and lows anymore. The two never spoke again … until now. Willie’s nephew and agent, Ben Silverman, gets a call from CBS about a comedy special, and the network wants to reunite the Sunshine Boys for one last live performance. All Ben has to do is convince the two to bury the hatchet for one night without burying it in each other’s back. But to revive the laughter for a new generation, the two wise-cracking artists will have to find a way past their hilarious zingers and snappy one-liners to rediscover the love of laughter that made them stars in a forgotten era.

The cast includes a mix of COM veteran performers, rising stars and a pair of debut performances. COM Community Theatre’s executive artistic director, Mark Adams, returns to the stage as Willie Clark, a role that requires Adams to explore every tool in the comedy kit – and perhaps invent a few new ones. He is joined by the gifted actor/director/playwright Steve Garfinkel, from Houston, as Al Lewis, who must not only match comedy wits with Willie but also try to make peace with their legacy. Bill Nealon, from Galveston, who was last seen in this season’s hit “Incorruptible,” lends his signature blend of dignity and desperation to the role of Ben, Willie’s nephew, whose attempts to keep the peace are driving him to an early grave. Rounding out this delightful cast with strong character performances are the multitalented Michael Bowen of Manvel, as the overworked Eddie, as well as two splendid debut performers, Christly Guedry from Dickinson, as the comedy Nurse and Agatha Raleigh of Pearland, as the Registered Nurse.

“Maybe the trickiest element of this play,” said director Rob de los Reyes, “is finding a cast of actors who can live up to the singular comic abilities of the characters they play. This kind of precise comic timing can’t be taught. The actors have it or they don’t.” He added with a confident grin, “Our cast has it.”

“The Sunshine Boys” runs from May 12 - June 5, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. For tickets, please call the College of the Mainland Community Theatre box office at 409-933-8345 or buy your tickets online at www.com.edu/theatre.


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