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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
THE SUNSHINE BOYS
at the George Street Playhouse (New Brunswick, N.J)

THOSE WERE THE DAYS
By Robert L. Daniels

  Michael Mastro and Jack Klugman/PH:T. Charles Erickson

Kornheiser: What are you doing?
Doctor: I'm examining your lower intestines.
Kornheiser: So why do you look in the ear?
Doctor: If I got a choice of two places to look, I'll take this one.

Thirty years ago, Neil Simon gave birth to The Sunshine Boys a sweet and often irreverent tribute to the era of vaudeville and the classic comic high-jinks of two veteran comedians. At the George Street Playhouse the laughter returns in a revival that not only tickles the funny bone, but targets the terrain of your lower intestines with robust belly laughs.

As staged by George Street artistic director David Saint, the combative relationship of the old comics is rich with salty laughter and a rare display of spirited camaraderie between two gifted actors. In the roles of the fictional one-time famous funny men are Jack Klugman as Willie Clark and Paul Dooley as Al Lewis. After a forty-seven year career on the stage, they are reunited for a television special, despite the fact that they have not spoken to each other for over a decade.

Their sparring becomes rich flavorful fun. Klugman, who played the role opposite his old pal Tony Randall on Broadway ten years ago, has valiantly conquered throat cancer surgery that left him with a raspy vocal chord. As Clark, he is a master curmudgeon, rattling about his apartment, quarreling with his harried nephew and refueling an old feud with his former partner.

Dooley brings a studied balance of texture and finesse to the role of the more practical straight man.
The actors play off each other beautifully, bouncing barbs back and forth like ping-pong balls.

As Clark's much harassed nephew, agent and futile peacemaker, Michael Mastro is a properly rattled observer and Ebony Jo-Ann brings a feisty blast of fun to the action as a bullying RN. The fetching nurse in the doctor sketch is Peggy Joyce Crosby and she is the perfect looking boy toy for the patient's leer and double-take.

The production marks the tenth anniversary of David Saint's reign at George Street, where he has
recruited the talents of the late Uta Hagen, along with Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson, Anne Meara, and Chita Rivera

I had the great pleasure of knowing Joe Smith, who along with his partner, Charlie Dale, spent their final days at the Actor's Fund Home in Englewood, N.J. Smith and Dale were the inspiration for Simon's comedy, though in real life they were great friends. Smith told me, when in his nineties, that he was rolling with the punches.i

 

 

 

 

 


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