TROY — The comical work of Neil Simon is set to hit the stage at Troy Civic Theatre in the organization’s new production, “The Sunshine Boys,” which premieres Friday at the Barn in the Park.
Performances are scheduled for Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and on Sunday at 2 p.m. Encore performances will be held on Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 10 at 2 p.m.
Set in the 1970s, “The Sunshine Boys” chronicles two cantankerous retired vaudeville performers, Willie Clark and Al Lewis, who reluctantly agree to reunite for a one-night special on CBS.
Director Cathie Melvin exclaimed that the show was chosen as a perfect way to lighten up Troy Civic Theatre’s 2018-19 line-up.
“When you put a show out here, you kind of have to know your audience, and we knew this show would appeal to that audience,” Melvin said, who is directing her twentieth full-length production for the theater. “When you get a name like Neil Simon, who’s done a million shows, people know what kind of show it will be. We’ve got some real talent on that stage, and it rounds our season out very nicely.”
“I have been in love with this show since I first saw it in about 1974,” said Dayton native Saul Caplan, who portrays Willie Clark. “I’ve done I don’t know how much Neil Simon, but I’ve been waiting to get old enough to do this show. This one doesn’t get done much anymore, and it’s a bucket-list role, so I’m grateful to Troy Civic Theatre for doing it and giving me the opportunity.”
“I’d seen the show and have seen the movie, and it’s just a neat story,” said Dayton native Dave Nickel, who portrays Al Lewis. “It’s a comedy, but with any comedy, there’s some line of truth. I think it’s interesting how these guys broke up acrimoniously and can’t really stand one another, and yet, they were together 43 years. Even though there’s a lot of butting heads, there’s familiarity and underlying friendship that’s there, too.”
“This is the fourth show I’ve done with Dave, so we already have a very comfortable on-stage relationship,” Caplan said. “It’s a relationship story — it’s almost a marriage story. It mirrors Abbott and Costello a lot, who didn’t get along. Martin and Lewis weren’t really fond of each other. But you find what works onstage — if the art works, you put the other stuff aside.”
“Being able to work with Saul and Dave has been really fun,” said Troy native Scott Atkinson, who portrays Willie’s nephew, Ben. “The character is great, because he’s the straight man for all the jokes. I set them up, and those guys get to knock them down. This show is just hysterical, and it’s a great one for people who want to go out and have a fun Friday or Saturday night.”
The cast includes, in order of appearance, Saul Caplan as Willie Clark, Scott Atkinson as Ben, Dave Nickel as Al Lewis, Barrie VanKirk as Vaudeville Stage Assistant, Dean Shipley as Vaudeville Director, Chuck Melvin as Patient, Julie Zalar as Vaudeville Nurse, and Jessica Fox as Registered Nurse.
“Troy Civic Theatre is such a close-knit group of people,” Atkinson said. “They put on great shows, and this theater is so intimate. When you put on a good show, the audiences are loud and engaged and laughing — the people who come out want to have a good time, and they just fill this house with laughter. It’s really fun.”
“The Sunshine Boys” runs approximately two hours, and features an intermission between its two acts.
Tickets are $16 for all performances.
Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys” is produced with special arrangement through Samuel French, Inc.
For more information, visit www.troycivictheatre.com, or call the box office at (937) 339-7700.