Holding a grudge is not the same as holding your breath. A grudge can be locked in for days, weeks, months and years without your face turning blue. For Willie Clark, it has become a passionate pastime, a raison d'etre, a cause celebre, a reason to get up every morning and become angry all over again. As a first class vaudevillian, he was half of a team with Al Lewis and together as the Sunshine Boys they achieved a fair amount of fame. Their comic routines, like "The Doctor Will See You Now," became legendary. But somewhere along the way to celebrity, after 43 years making funny, Al decided, without a whoopee cushion of concern, to retire, just like that, with no warning or explanation...and Willie is still mad.
Old chestnuts can still be filled with a nutty flavor once you’ve cracked open their hard exterior shells and Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys” is no exception. Here two old Vaudevillian entertainers, going by the names of Lewis and Clark, are back.
The Connecticut Repertory Theater will be overseeing their rocky reunion until Sunday, June 29 as Al Lewis and Willie Clark attempt a comeback after a hiatus of almost a dozen years.
Crankiness and stubbornness don’t necessarily improve with age, like a fine wine or a sharp cheese. Willie Clark, a memorable
Jerry Adler, has yet to forgive his partner Al, a mild-mannered Richard Kline, for ending their act abruptly, forcing them both into retirement. Never have crotchety and cranky been so comic! The two men are masters of their game. Adler had always wanted to play Willie and now he does so supremely well and Kline played the nephew Ben in 1974, so he has now come full circle and is doing himself proud.
Almost daily for the last twelve years, Willie has been nudging his nephew Ben,a patiently devoted Richard Ruiz, who doubles as his agent, to find him work. Unfortunately Willie’s memory doesn’t allow him to remember his lines. That faulty thinking, however, doesn’t stop him from clinging to a long list of grievances over Al’s conduct before he deserted the act. He sits in his pajamas and curses Al, on a wonderfully detailed set designed by Tim Brown.
Suddenly Ben has a gold-plated opportunity. CBS is doing a History of Comedy Show and wants the two men to do their best routine, “The Doctor Will See You Now.” All Ben has to do is get the two men on the set together without them killing each other first. Vincent J. Cardinal directs this fun-filled rampage, like a merry-go-round running out of control, as the two cantankerous old coots poke each other in the funny bone. Additional support is provided by Tina Fabrique, Thomas Brazzle, Steven Hayes, Sara Andreas and Conor Donnally.
For tickets ($10-43), call 860-486-2113 or online at www.crt.uconn.edu. All performances are at the Jorgensen Theatre on campus (minutes off exit 68 of I-84). Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Let a little sunshine into your life by making an appointment to visit the wacky doctor and his probing I. R. S. agent patient as Vaudeville strikes again.