by Andy Weddington
Saturday, 06 February 2016
You know what you are? You're a 73 year-old putz. Al Lewis
Neil Simon wrote 'The Sunshine Boys' some 44 years ago.
The play first appeared on Broadway in 1972 and until last evening I'd not seen it.
Shame on me!
In short it's the intimate story of a once successful comedy team - Lewis & Clark - who after decades together parted ways. Though no longer in the spotlight their impact not forgotten but a bit of animus between the 'boys' hampers a reunion performance for old times sake.
A cast of seven took stage in the small playhouse called 'Theatre 29' (Twentynine Palms, California).
The actors only feet away.
Leads Kurt Schauppner (Willie Clark) and Alfred Klein (Al Lewis) were terrific - funny, believable, entertaining.
Jeremy Volsteadt (Ben Silverman) was not overshadowed. Strong.
Daneita Chestnut (Willie's Nurse), Brittany Smith (Sketch "Nursey"), Mike Shaw (Sketch Patient), and Barry Inscore (CBS Stage Manager) rounded out the cast.
For those who know the story, I'll not do it injustice by attempting a summary. Nor will I spoil the story by retelling it for those not familiar.
But as with some things in life the best comes last and so it did after the brief intermission.
Brittany Smith (Sketch "Nursey") was no prop in the Lewis & Clark resurrection of 'The Doctors Visit.'
The young, tall, trim, attractive and shapely Nursey - clad in form-fitting white on the short side, heels, and flowing blond locks adorned with trade cap - was the doctor's (Clark) assistant.
And she played her lines, the straight spoken and more so the curvy unspoken, perfectly.
Sickening, but in the best of ways, was that the patient's (Lewis) lengthy name was not longer - for Nursey to spell; alternating a wiggle and a waggle per letter.
See the show!
Anyway, winding down the story Clark wanted an apology from Lewis (whom he, Clark, believed the cause for the duo's breakup).
Lewis saw it otherwise and balked at apology.
With the two leads bantering, the stage went dark and the play ended.
The house lights came up and the cast bowed to well-deserved continuous applause.
And then I turned to my wife and the couple who accompanied us and said, "I believe the director [Eddie Tucker] owes us all an apology - for not having more scenes with Nursey."
Laughing, my pal agreed. Our wives, laughing, understood - boys are boys.
Regrettably, the cast did not greet the audience. My pal and I not so interested in autographs but jokingly told our wives we'd like to get that nurse's phone number.
Brittany Smith did not steal the show but sure did add another ray or two of sunshine. Some may say moonshine. Ask any old putz.
In closing, bewildering, there were empty seats. And for such fine acting and an entertaining play that is a shame. Glad last night was my first seeing Mr. Simon's work. Memorable.
The Sunshine Boys runs through 13 February 2016. If anywhere near Theatre 29, make the effort. You'll not be disappointed. For details and more (always great productions) about Theatre 29 visit their website: http://www.theatre29.org