New Jewish Theatre opens 19th season with Neil Simon comedy

 Bobby Miller and Peter Mayer star in the New Jewish Theatre production of Neil Simon’s comedy ‘The Sunshine Boys.’ Photo: Eric Woolsey

The New Jewish Theatre will open its 19th Season on Oct. 8 with Neil Simon’s classic comedy “The Sunshine Boys.”  

 The story centers on two vaudevillians who toured together for more than 40 years as the top-billed comedy team of “Lewis and Clark” but have not spoken in more than a decade. As the play — set in 1972 — opens, the two have been asked to reprise their act for a CBS retrospective on the history of comedy. Neither is keen on opening up all of the old wounds. The grudging reunion brings a flood of memories, miseries — and laughs. Curmudgeonly Willie Clark (Bobby Miller) still clings to his identity as an actor even though he can no longer get any work, while his comic partner Al Lewis (Peter Mayer) has accepted his retirement and his current role in life as father and grandfather. 

 In this love letter to American theater history, Simon loosely based his two main characters on an actual and widely known vaudeville comedy act, “Smith and Dale” (Joe Sultzer and Charles Marks). Their famous “Dr. Kronkhite” sketch is recreated in Simon’s own style in the “doctor” scene in the play.  

Mixed in with all of the humor and laughs is a great deal of warmth and poignancy.    

“The Sunshine Boys” will run Oct. 8 through Nov. 1 in the Jewish Community Center’s Wool Studio Theatre, 2 Millstone Campus Drive. Tickets are $39.50 to $43.50 and are available at newjewishtheatre.org or 314-442-3283.

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