Thea Sharrock is to direct Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths as the ageing vaudevillian team Willie Clark and Al Lewis in Neil Simon’s award-wining comedy, The Sunshine Boys. Previewing from 27 April with press night on 17 May, The Sunshine Boys is booking at the Savoy Theatre for a strictly limited run until 28 July 2012.
The Sunshine Boys has designs by Hildegard Bechtler with lighting by Neil Austin and sound by Ian Dickinson for Autograph. Further casting will be announced shortly.
Kings of comedy, Willie Clark (Danny DeVito) and Al Lewis (Richard Griffiths) 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 nostalgic History of Comedy, 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 Neil Simon’s 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 featureThe 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.
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 has a career that 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).
The Sunshine Boys is produced by Sonia Friedman Productions and Richard Willis.
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