Review: The Sunshine Boys Well Worth Venturing into the February Cold

by Jane Primerano (NJ Arts Maven)

Lewis and Clark, not the ones who mapped the Pacific Northwest, the Vaudevillians, haven’t spoken in 11 years, after 43 years as a comic duo.  Now they’ve been asked to do one of their classic sketches on a television special about the history of comedy. It’s up to Willie Clark’s nephew and agent, Ben Silverman, to bring them together. Because this is a classic Neil Simon comedy, they rebel hilariously.


The Centenary Stage Company production of The Sunshine Boys opened on Friday, Feb. 14, and runs through Sunday, March 1.  Opening night was packed and the audience’s laughter shook the spacious Sitnik Theatre in the Lackland Performing Arts Center on the Hackettstown campus.

Review: "The Sunshine Boys" at Centenary Stage Company

by Michael S. Foster (New Jersey Stage)

Neil Simon, one Broadway’s most beloved and successful playwrights would have been extremely proud of Centenary Stage Company’s production of The Sunshine Boys. The play first premiered on Broadway in 1972. It is a story of Al Lewis and Willie Clark. Lewis and Clark were once a successful Vaudevillian comedy duo known as the Sunshine Boys. In the later years of their 43 year run, animosity grew between the partners and they ceased to speak to each other. Eventually Al Lewis would retire from show business, leaving Willie Clark struggling to keep his dreams of the stage afloat.

Fast forward 11 years, the play opens with Willy, An old man who is struggling with memory loss, accepting an offer from his Nephew and Talent agent Ben Silverman to reunite with his partner, Lewis for a CBS special on the history of comedy. Willie and Al meet in Willie's apartment to rehearse their classic doctor sketch. The reunion gets off to a bad start, with the two getting into heated arguments over various aspects of the performance. However, thanks to the urging of Al's daughter, the two decide to go through with the performance.

Review: THE SUNSHINE BOYS at Centenary Stage Company is a Must-See Comedy

by Marina Kennedy (Broadway World)

The Sunshine Boys by Neil Simon is now being performed by the Centenary Stage Company through March 1. Directed by Keith Baker, it features a marvelous cast. Whether you've seen this gem of a comedy before, or it's your very first time, you'll find that the production excels in every respect.

Willie Clark and Al Lewis were the popular vaudeville comedy team of "Lewis and Clark" that performed for over 40 years. Al retired from show biz to pursue a financial career while Willie continued his interest in performing. When CBS produces a "History of Comedy" special, Willie's nephew and talent agent, Ben gets the duo on the show. But it's been years since the comedy partners have seen each other and their reunion hardly goes well. The two elderly men have very different lifestyles. Willie resides in a run-down NYC hotel suite and Al has settled in suburban New Jersey to live with his daughter. When they must prepare for the show, sparks fly.

Review: 'The Sunshine Boys' are together again and as funny as ever, in Hackettstown

by Jay Lustig (

Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys” premiered on Broadway in 1972 with Jack Albertson as cantankerous former vaudeville star Willie Clark and Sam Levene as his passive-aggressive ex-partner, Al Lewis. It has subsequently been produced many more times on stage and on film, most famously when Herbert Ross directed a feature film of it in 1975 with Walter Matthau as Willie and George Burns as Al. (Burns, a former vaudevillian himself, won an Oscar for his performance.)

In the current production that the Centenary Stage Company is presenting at the Lackland Performing Arts Center in Hackettstown through March 1, Carl Wallnau and David Edwards play Willie and Al, respectively, and sometimes seem to be channelling Matthau and Burns. Wallnau’s enraged bellow, at times, bears a striking resemblance to Matthau’s, and Edwards says some of his lines with the same sense of bemused befuddlement that Burns brought to the role.