Theatre Mirror Reviews - "THE SUNSHINE BOYS"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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Note: Entire Contents Copyright 2016 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The year is 1977. Two cranky vaudevillians, known as The Sunshine Boys, are asked to reunite for a CBS comedy special. However, Al and Willie, once a top billed vaudevillian team, are no longer speaking. But when CBS asks them to star in a comedy retrospective, their resentful, rollicking reunion offers the estranged duo the possibility of forgiveness. Willie Clark and Al Lewis were a comedy team for 43 years and haven't seen each other in 11 years. The comic antics explode for audiences at 2nd Story Theatre. Neil Simon's "The Sunshine Boys" is an expertly written take on how funny vaudeville was. Director Ed Shea casts the cranky old men and their supporting characters perfectly, giving his audience a multitude of laughter in this excellent show.

Not only does Ed cast this show well, he obtains every bit of humor from the one liners, the timing and the shtick. Bob Colonna as Willie Clark delivers a tour de force performance. He is onstage the entire time except for one minute at the beginning of Act 2. Bob is a master of Neil Simon's one liners with his fantastic facial expressions and his shuffling walk help complete the feat. The character loves corned beef sandwiches and cigars which help lead him into a funny heart attack segment. The best scene in the show is the vaudeville segment about a doctor, his nurse and the taxman. His ogling of the nurse's boobs and butt is hysterical. I first acted with Bob in "The Time of the Hand and Eye'', an original play about Gilbert Stuart back in 1986, proving that Bob is not only a master of comedy but of dramatic roles, too. He also proved this earlier this season as Father Farley in "Mass Appeal'' which won him many deserving accolades.

Bob's partner in this show is Bill Oakes as Al Lewis. Both men play these older gentlemen wonderfully. Bill has many comic moments along the way especially the spitting in the face scene and the poking in the chest scene. Neil Simon makes you think this is a dramatic moment but it turns on a dime into a laugh out loud one. The apology scene takes a comic turn when Al tells Willie where he is going to live. Willie's long suffering and kindly nephew, Ben is fantastically played Nicholas Thibeault. He mouths when his uncle is telling him k words are funny, the words before his uncle speaks them. He handles his scenes with the two veteran actors with ease. Nicholas' line delivery is excellent and the unlocking of the door scene is hilarious. Slid it, don't push it to open it, he yells at his uncle. Susie Bowen Powers plays the strict nurse who cares for Willie after his heart attack. She eats his candy and bosses him around. Lauren Ustazewski is a hoot as the dumb blonde nurse with the big boob's in the TV sketch who is leered at by Willie and Al. I last reviewed Lauren as Vivian Vance in Lucy for Daydream Theatre in November, 2013. So for an excellent Neil Simon comedy, be sure to catch this classic show, "The Sunshine Boys" at 2nd Story Theatre. It will definitely entertain you on a hot summer night with much merriment.

THE SUNSHINE BOYS (5 to 28 August)
2nd Story Theatre, 28 Market Street, Warren, RI
1(401)247-4200 or

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide