Thea Sharrock’s production, which begins rehearsals today, previews at the Savoy Theatre from 27 April with press night on 17 May. The Sunshine Boys, which is booking for a strictly limited run until 28 July 2012, is designed by Hildegard Bechtler with lighting by Neil Austin, music by Adrian Johnston and sound by Ian Dickinson for Autograph.
The Sunshine Boys is produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, Richard Willis and Tulchin Bartner Productions.
Kings of comedy, Willie Clark and Al Lewis aka ‘The Sunshine Boys’ haven’t spoken to each other in years. When CBS call for the vaudevillian greats to be re-united for a television special, past grudges resurface as they take centre stage once more. Ageing ailments aside, can this legendary double-act overcome their differences for one last show? Old rivalry and vintage hilarity abound in this classic comedy of showbiz and friendship.
Danny DeVito (Willie Clark), who will make his West End stage debut in The Sunshine Boys, won both a Golden Globe and an Emmy award for his portrayal of Louie De Palma in the US hit comedy Taxi, a role he played for five years. His extensive film credits include Martini in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a role he also played on stage, Terms of Endearment, Romancing the Stone, The Jewel of the Nile, Junior, Twins and Ruthless People. He appeared as the Penguin opposite Michael Keaton’s Batman in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. Later this year DeVito will voice the title character in Universal Pictures’ animated feature The Lorax, based on the book of the same name by Dr. Seuss. As a film director DeVito’s credits include Matilda, The War of the Roses and Hoffa. This autumn DeVito returns as Frank Reynolds in the eighth season of the acclaimed American cult comedy, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Richard Griffiths (Al Lewis) won the Olivier and Tony Awards for Best Actor for his portrayal of Hector in The History Boys at the National Theatre and on Broadway, a role he also played on screen. Griffiths has previously been directed by Thea Sharrock in Equus at the Gielgud Theatre and on Broadway, and Heroes at the Wyndham’s Theatre. His other theatre credits include The Habit of Art for the National Theatre and Rules of the Game and Galileo for the Almeida Theatre. His Royal Shakespeare Company credits include The White Guard, Once in a Lifetime, Henry VIII and Volpone. His recent television credits include Episodes, Ballet Shoes and Bleak House all for the BBC but he is most well known on television for playing D.I. Henry Crabbe in Pie in the Sky. On film Griffiths played the unforgettable role of Uncle Monty in the British black comedy, Withnail and I. His other film credits include the role of Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films, as well as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Hugo, Private Peaceful, Stage Beauty, Sleepy Hollow and The History Boys.
Rebecca Blackstone (Miss MacKintosh) trained at RADA. Her theatre credits include Lucille in Cool Hand Luke at the Aldwych, The Country for Salisbury Playhouse and Lauren in Midlife Crisis for Coalition Theatre, part of Old Vic New Voices.
Nick Blakeley (Eddie) trained at Bristol Old Vic. His theatre credits include 13 and A Woman Killed with Kindness for the National Theatre, Millennium for Old Vic New Voices and The Country Wife for Bristol Old Vic. His television credits include Doctors for the BBC.
Peter Cadden’s (Voice of TV Director) theatre credits include King Lear for West Yorkshire Playhouse, A Flea in Her Ear and Pygmalion for the Old Vic, Ohio Impromptu for the Beckett Festival at the Barbican and Gate Theatre Dublin and Measure for Measure for the Peter Hall Company at Bath Theatre Royal.
Johnnie Fiori’s (Registered Nurse) theatre credits include Vernon God Little at the Young Vic, Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray at the Shaftesbury Theatre, the title role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Thoroughly Modern Millie and 125th Street both at the Shaftesbury Theatre and The Wiz for the Hackney Empire. Fiori made her operatic debut in Robert LePage’s version of 1984 for the Royal Opera House.
Adam Levy’s (Ben Silverman) theatre credits include Henry V and Edmond for the National Theatre, Henry IV Part I, Richard II and Beauty and the Beast for the Royal Shakespeare Company and Angels in America for the Lyric Hammersmith and on tour. For Regent’s Park Theatre his credits include Oh! What a Lovely War, As You Like It and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. His television credits include Rome, Lewis and Coronation Street. On film his credits include Gladiator, Mercenaries and Being Considered.
William Maxwell’s (Patient) theatre credits include Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar and Nicholas Nickleby for the Royal Shakespeare Company and A Flea in Her Ear for the Old Vic. His television credits include Nearest and Dearest, Brookside, Z Cars and Strike Out of Time. On film his credits include Cicero, The Temple Project and The Ploughman’s Lunch.
The Sunshine Boys was first produced on Broadway in 1972 and was later adapted for film and television. Sam Levene and Jack Albertson played Lewis and Clark in the stage premiere directed by Alan Arkin. Neil Simon’s 1975 Academy award-winning film adaptation starred George Burns as Lewis and Walter Matthau as Clark and was directed by Herbert Ross. Woody Allen and Peter Falk played the vaudevillian pair in the television version, directed by John Erman.
Playwright and screen writer Neil Simon’s career has spanned more than five decades during which he has written over 30 plays and 20 screenplays. His first Broadway play, Come Blow Your Horn, opened in 1961. Shortly after, his second, Little Me, earned him his first Tony Award nomination. In 1966 Simon had four shows running on Broadway at the same time - Sweet Charity, The Star-Spangled Girl, The Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park. He has won three Tony Awards - Best Author for The Odd Couple, Best Play for Biloxi Blues and Best Play for Lost in Yonkers - and been nominated for seventeen. Simon has also won an Evening Standard Award for Barefoot in the Park, the Golden Globe for Best Motion Screenplay for The Goodbye Girl and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Lost In Yonkers. He has also written the books for several musicals including Sweet Charity.
Thea Sharrock’s production of 13 has recently completed a run at the National Theatre where she previously directed After The Dance for which she won the 2011 Olivier Award for Best Revival, Happy Now? and The Emperor Jones. The Sunshine Boys reunites Sharrock with Richard Griffiths who she directed in Equus both in the West End and on Broadway and in Heroes at the Wyndham’s Theatre. Her other theatre credits include Cause Célèbre for the Old Vic and The Misanthrope at the Comedy Theatre. Sharrock was previously Artistic Director at the Southwark Playhouse (2001-2003) and the Gate Theatre (2004-2006).