LOS ANGELES — After a successful run on the West End in 2012, it was announced earlier this year that the revival of Neil Simon’s classic, “The Sunshine Boys,” would be coming to Los Angeles.
But with the untimely death in March of cast member Richard Griffiths, due to complications following heart surgery, the Center Theater Group’s production found itself one boy short, leaving Danny DeVito’s Willy Clark without an Al Lewis.
On Monday it was announced that DeVito’s old “Taxi” cast mate Judd Hirsch will be filling the role at downtown Los Angeles’s Ahmanson Theater. The production runs September 24 through November 3.
“The Sunshine Boys” centers on a pair of vaudeville stars who reunite after many years to do a TV special. The original production premiered on Broadway in 1972 — it starred Jack Albertson and Sam Levene, and was directed by Alan Arkin. Three years later it was turned into a movie starring Walter Matthau, who received an Oscar nod for his performance, and George Burns, who won a Best Supporting Oscar.
DeVito made his West End debut in the play, which ran in a limited engagement in 2012, alongside Griffith. Directed by Thea Sharrock, the production received mainly positive reviews from the Telegraph, the New York Times, and the Guardian, which described it as a “joyous revival.” Time Out London called it “a missed opportunity.”
Two-time Tony winner Judd Hirsch comes to the production fresh off last year’s “Freud’s Last Session” on Santa Monica’s Broad Stage. He and DeVito enjoyed smooth chemistry when they played opposite each other as amiable cabbie Alex Reiger and his misanthropic dispatcher, Louie DePalma, in the popular TV sitcom “Taxi,” which ran from 1978 to 1983 and garnered Emmy Awards for both.