BRAINERD — From the late master of American comedy, Neil Simon, comes Brainerd Community Theatre’s first summer theatre production commemorating the organization’s 50th anniversary.
“The Sunshine Boys” will open June 25 with performances nightly through June 28, and finishing with additional shows July 1-3. All shows are at 7:30 p.m. in the Chalberg Theatre on the campus of Central Lakes College.
“The Sunshine Boys” tells the story of Al Lewis and Willie Clark, two faded stars of the vaudeville circuit, once beloved and now mostly forgotten. At their height, Lewis and Clark made multiple appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show and headlined all the major performance venues. When Lewis decided to hang it up and leave the act, he left Clark in the lurch. For 12 years the former partners have not seen or spoken to one another.
Now, they’re presented with a chance to reunite for one more performance of their most famous comedy sketch as part of a television special. It takes a lot of persuasion to move Willie, who believes he was wronged by Al, to agree to the deal. The two men meet, catch up, rehearse ... and then the wheels come off as old grievances and grudges bubble to the surface.
Portraying the two vaudeville stars are BCT Director Patrick Spradlin and M.S Bernard, a local actor and director well known to area audiences.
Bernard has been seen on stage in BCT productions like “Spamalot,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” “The Seafarer,” “The Elephant Man,” “Rumors” and most recently “A Few Good Men.”
Spradlin has been a theatre instructor at CLC since 1992, and director of BCT since 2012. He has directed over 70 productions since that time, and acted in several others. Most recently he was seen onstage in “The Woman in Black.”
Local actor Kevin Yeager plays the role of Ben, nephew to Willie and the driving force behind the effort to reunite the squabbling pair.
The cast is also made up of Lisa LeBlanc, a veteran of Little Falls community theatre productions; Jennifer Anderson, who most recently wowed audiences of Pequot Lakes’ “The Addams Family” with her zanily maniacal rendition of Grandmama; Charlie Johnson, a long-time performer as both actor (most recently in “Young Frankenstein” as the deceased Victor) and member of numerous pit bands and orchestras; Marc Oliphant (Dr. Bob in “Bill W. and…” and Ernie in “Rumors”) as the TV studio director; and C.J. Nichols (Pvt. William T. Santiago in “A Few Good Men”) as the harried and much put-upon assistant Eddie. Rachel Martin appears in a role created especially for her unique personality: Card Girl.
Long-time area director Beth Selinger heads up the production.
The set is designed by Tim Leagjeld, long recognized as the premiere set designer in the Brainerd Lakes Area. Lighting and sound is designed by Ben Kent, with Dawn Krautbauer costuming the play. George Marsolek is technical director.
As part of the 50th Anniversary season launch, ticket prices for “The Sunshine Boys” have been rolled back to 1969 prices.
Tickets are available from the CLC Theatre Box Office at (218) 855-8199 or online at www.clcperformingarts.com
This production, and the entire season, is made possible in part by an Operating Support Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, as part of a legislative appropriation through the Legacy Amendment.