NEIL SIMON’S CLASSIC COMEDY “THE SUNSHINE BOYS”
“Taxi” Stars Reunite for the First Time to Perform as Two Reuniting Vaudevillians
Two stars of the landmark television series “Taxi,” Judd Hirsch and Danny DeVito, will reunite on the stage of the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles in Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys,” directed by Thea Sharrock.
The previously announced DeVito is joined by Hirsch in Simon’s classic comedy which opens the Ahmanson’s 2013-2014 subscription season and runs September 24 through November 3, 2013. The opening night is set for October 2. Additional casting will be announced in the coming weeks.
Danny DeVito starred with the late Richard Griffiths in the critically acclaimed production of “The Sunshine Boys” which played to packed houses in London’s West End last summer. According to DeVito, “Sharing the stage with Richard was one of the happiest times I've ever spent. He was a great actor and became a good friend. Richard Griffiths was and is a national treasure. Look at his body of work, it’ll blow your mind.”
In Neil Simon’s play Willie Clark (DeVito) and Al Lewis (Hirsch) are former vaudevillian stars who, after a partnership of over 40 years, are no longer speaking to each other. When a lucrative television offer for one last show lures them into a grudging reunion, sparks fly in this classic comedy of showbiz and friendship.
Judd Hirsch made his Broadway debut in “Barefoot in the Park” and performed in Lanford Wilson’s “The Hot l Baltimore” and “Talley’s Folly” (off-Broadway, at the Mark Taper Forum, and then on Broadway, winning an Obie Award and a Tony Award nomination). He won Tony Awards for two of Herb Gardner’s plays, “I’m Not Rappoport” and “Conversations with My Father,” and most recently starred in “Freud’s Last Session” at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. Hirsch won two Emmys for the role of Alex Reiger in “Taxi.” Other TV credits include “Dear John” (Golden Globe), “Numb3rs,” “Damages” and “Maron.” Film credits include “Ordinary People” (Oscar nomination), “A Beautiful Mind” and “This Must Be the Place.”
On hearing Hirsch accepted the role of Al, DeVito said, “I'm so excited to be working with Judd again. We did a play together 43 years ago and then, of course, did 114 episodes of ‘Taxi.’ I'm so excited -- did I say that already? This is gonna be a total blast.”
After taking the role Judd Hirsch commented, “Here we go again ... just like Al and Willie ... I just can’t wait.”
“The Sunshine Boys” “… celebrates the clown’s classic gift for turning anger into art,” said Ben Brantley of The New York Times. “Willie Clark ... has a carved-in-stone list of things that are funny. Words that have “k” sounds, for instance, like pickle and cake and cucumber. Might I add to that list the image of a tufted Danny DeVito in striped pajamas and a sports jacket? ... That’s comedy, folks. And it’s one of the reasons that Thea Sharrock’s production of ‘The Sunshine Boys’ works so incredibly well.”
“Thea Sharrock directs a pitch-perfect production,” said Charles Spencer of The Telegraph, “that beautifully captures fleeting moments of tenderness in the comedy without ever turning mushy… a golden evening. ...” Sharrock won the 2011 Olivier Award for Best Revival for “After the Dance” at London’s National Theatre where she has also directed “13,” “Happy Now?” and “The Emperor Jones.” She directed “Heroes” at the Geffen Playhouse, starring George Segal, Richard Benjamin and Len Cariou, and “Equus” with Richard Griffiths and Daniel Radcliffe on Broadway. Her other theatre credits include “The Misanthrope” with Keira Knightly at the Comedy Theatre, the musical of “The Bodyguard,” and last year she directed “Henry V” for BBC TV.
Danny DeVito won both a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award for his portrayal of Louie De Palma in the hit comedy “Taxi.” He co-starred in two Academy Award-winning films, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” in a role he also played on stage, and “Terms of Endearment.” His other film credits include “The Ratings Game,” “Throw Momma From the Train,” “The War of the Roses,” “Hoffa,” “Death to Smoochy” and “Matilda.” He also voiced the Lorax in the animated feature “The Lorax.” He is currently starring in the eighth season of FX’s acclaimed comedy “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” and recently wrapped production on his first horror feature, “St. Sebastian's,” which he directed and produced.
Center Theatre Group has presented 15 plays by Neil Simon including his Tony Award-winning “The Odd Couple” and “Biloxi Blues,” as well as the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning “Lost in Yonkers.” Simon is the only living playwright to have a Broadway theatre named after him. He also received a Special Tony for his contributions to theatre, has been inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame, and is a Kennedy Center honoree.
“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.
“The Sunshine Boys” is produced by Richard Willis, Sonia Friedman Productions and Tulchin Bartner Productions.
Tickets for “The Sunshine Boys” are currently available as part of the 2013 – 2014 Ahmanson Theatre subscription. For information and to charge season tickets by phone, call the Exclusive Season Ticket Hotline at (213) 972-4444. To purchase subscriptions online, visit CenterTheatreGroup.org/Ahmanson. For information regarding audio description and Project D.A.T.E. (sign language interpreted, open caption and audio description performances) call TDD (213) 680-4017 or voice (213) 972-4444.
The Ahmanson Theatre is located at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A. 90012.