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Frisco Community Theatre presents 'The Sunshine Boys'
Joyce Korn/Contributing photographer
Ben Westfried as Al Lewis points an accusing finger at his former vaudeville partner Willie Clark, played by Howard Korn in Frisco Community Theatre's production of “The Sunshine Boys.” Trying to restrain Willie is his nephew and agent, Ben Silverman, played by Bob Zak. Looking on in bemused wonder is Eddie, played by Chad Livingston. The Neil Simon comedy is playing at the Discovery Center Black Box Theatre through June 17. Call 972-370-2266 or email email@example.com
to reserve tickets.
Sign up to explore comedy territory with Lewis and Clark
Frisco Community Theatre's current production of “The Sunshine Boys” transforms geriatric bickering into a comedy art form.
The Neil Simon comedy in the hands of the two lead actors, Howard Korn and Ben Westfried, provide an audience with its money's worth and then some.
The two play aged performers Willie Clark and Al Lewis. They were known as the comedy team Lewis and Clark, but their days of comic exploring are long behind them. Westfried plays Lewis who is content to live with his daughter and enjoy retirement.
Korn plays Clark who refuses to retire or admit that he needs to. He is a constant source of frustration to his nephew and agent Ben Silverman, played by Bob Zak.
Also known as The Sunshine Boys, Lewis and Clark hate each other. About 20 years prior Lewis wanted to retire and Clark did not, the act broke up and the two senior citizens have not spoken since.
Silverman snags a career-reviving opportunity for the pair of vaudevillians when a major network wants to hire Lewis and Clark to do their act for a documentary about the history of comedy. Silverman has an unsolvable dilemma. He knows Team Lewis and Clark have not spoken to each other for well over a decade and that his uncle's performance skills are not what they used to be.
The opportunity is too golden to pass up for the two performers in their golden years, but how does Silverman solve the problems of getting the team back together for one last time?
Watching the cast try to solve these problems comprises an evening of theatre not to be missed.
Korn gives the theatrical warhorse a depth that makes an audience laugh and cry at the same time. He fusses, fumes and sputters with the intensity of a Fourth-of-July firework. His Willie, in brief microsecond glimpses, brings to mind another famous Willie in the theatre, Willy Loman of “Death of a Salesman”. But the glimpses are almost subliminal, just enough to make the comedy poignant.
Attention must be paid to Willie Clark. There's no way this Willie is going to lapse into philosophical blathering.
No one can bluster like Korn when Willie talks about how his failure at the various commercial jobs is everybody else's fault but his.
Ben Westfried as Al Lewis is right there with Willie to give as good as he gets with every insult. He returns everything Willie bats at him sputter for sputter.
He plays the calmer Lewis with placid resolve until Clark gets his goat. Westfried is an entertaining contrast to Korn, both physically and in his performance. His Lewis has obviously made peace with the fact that they are no longer at the top of their game.
A memorable highlight of the show happens when Lewis and Clark perform a ballet of ineptitude when they try to set the stage for one of their own sketches. It becomes apparent both why they hate each other and why they worked so well together.
Bob Zak is a study in frustration as Ben Silverman. He elicits sympathy at all the grief his uncle causes him, while making it apparent at the same time how much he loves his uncle.
Shelley Ohmes gives a memorable performance as the nurse in the comedy sketch Lewis and Clark perform for the network special. She expertly uses her attributes to explore the character.
Judith Johnson as Registered Nurse O'Neil, who takes care of Clark when he gets sick, is all starch and oxfords in not taking any guff from her patient.
Rounding out the cast is Chase Livingston as a network technician and Shaun J. Walsh as a patient in the comedy sketch.
Tony Adams directs the production with an expert hand. He also designed the lighting and sound.
The show begins slowly with Korn reciting lines by himself on stage, but as soon as the action starts he and the rest of the cast liven up considerably.
It's worth the time and effort to follow Lewis and Clark on their laugh expedition. Visit www.friscocommunitytheatre.com for ticket information.
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