HDS set to bring sunshine and laughs with Neil Simon play

A medical moment from the HDS production of The Sunshine Boys, with from left, Derek Newton  as Al Lewis, Paul Dunstan as Willie Clark, and Claire Hadden as the Nurse.

A medical moment from the HDS production of The Sunshine Boys, with from left, Derek Newton as Al Lewis, Paul Dunstan as Willie Clark, and Claire Hadden as the Nurse.

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By Graham Chalmers

Harrogate Dramatic Society is doing it best to lift the New Year with its latest production which also features a debut director.

Neil Simon’s witty but poignant comedy The Sunshine Boys runs at Harrogate Studio Theatre from Wednesday, January 22 until Saturday, January 25.

Immortalised on film and stage by such Hollywood greats as Walter Matthau, George Burns, Woody Allen and Danny DeVito, the play revolves around two retired – and grumpy - vaudeville comedians on America’s east coast.

The couple, Willie Clark and Al Lewis, were top-billed performers for more than 40 years. After a fall-out 11 years earlier, they stopped speaking to each other altogether.

When CBS, the US television network, decide to make a History of Comedy retrospective programme, they ask Lewis and Clark to re-stage one of their famous sketches.

It’s not an easy reunion as the couple grudgingly – and hilariously -- argue about every detail of their act.

The new show will be John Wilford’s debut as director for the HDS.

A relatively new member of the society, he has appeared on-stage in a number of recent productions: Oh What a Lovely War, The Birthday Party, Wind in the Willows, Dad’s Army and Brassed Off.

He has extensive experience of direction with other Societies, mainly in West Yorkshire.

The cast is also experienced, the two central characters, Willie Clark and Al Lewis, are played by two HDS “veterans”, Paul Dunstan and Derek Newton respectively.

Willie Clark’s long-suffering nephew, Ben will be in the capable hands of Stuart Newsome. Of the smaller parts, Pat Bickerton and Claire Hadden are two nurses, while Ashley Timson takes on the role of a patient and Joash Parker, a TV studio assistant.

The Sunshine Boys runs at Harrogate Studio Theatre from Wednesday, January 22 until Saturday, January 25.

Evening performances begin at 7.45 pm with a Saturday matinee at 2pm.

Tickets are available from the Theatre Box Office 01423 502116, or on-line at www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk