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The Sunshine Boys

Pinnacle's quippy old men

By Rob Tennant
Posted // November 8,2011 -

Pinnacle Acting Company’s new production of Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys is a study in nostalgia as much as it is an exploration of comedy. The tale of two old vaudevillians getting the act back together was originally staged in 1972, a time just as distant to us now as the further bygone era once inhabited by our central characters.

We are shown a world, completely lacking in incredulity, where a semi-retired actor can afford to live alone in a midtown Manhattan hotel with no income other than Social Security. A world where the same man’s nephew invites him to come live with the nephew’s family. A world where a major television network would bother putting together a 90-minute variety special honoring the fading greats of a dying performing tradition instead of airing the season finale of the reality hit MILF Island.

Willie (Ron Frederickson, pictured left) and Al (Andrew Maizner, pictured right) haven’t spoken in the 12 years following 41 years performing together. Now, they have an opportunity to bring one of their classic sketches to a new generation and possibly jump-start their languishing careers. First, though, they have to get through a rehearsal steeped in decades of resentment. Fortunately for the audience, their comic instincts make for hilarious bickering.

Frederickson and Maizner are both excellent in their portrayals of these old stars, both as the prickly old men they have become and on the meta-stage, channeling the great performers the characters once were.
The Sunshine Boys is good fun—endless one-liners stuffed between moments of bittersweet poignancy, just like a night at the old playhouse should be.

Midvale Performing Arts Center, 695 W. Center St. (7720 South), Midvale, 801-634-5802
Through Nov. 19

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