The Return of Lewis & Clark

Neil Simon’s comedy about two Vaudevillians who reluctantly reunite for a TV special after not speaking to each other for more than a decade is a showcase for Joneal Joplin (who plays Willie Clark) and Whit Reichert (Al Lewis). Joplin is the demanding comique artiste who nurses a massive grudge against his former partner for reasons real (Al retired, effectively retiring Willie as well) and manufactured (Al spits when he talks, he pokes too hard). Reichert plays Al with a guileless charm, an affable old man who is a crashing bore in conversation and who doesn’t understand how much Willie needs the stage. The first act is fitfully funny, and mostly set-up -- although there is something magical about two senior citizens dueling with kitchen knife and tray table. The second act is a blur of laughs, as the two recreate their legendary “Doctor Sketch” and the years melt off both men; Reichert tumbles and cavorts, Joplin goes for a bizarre accent and zany persona at odds with the “real” Willie. Presented by Saint Louis Actors Studio at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (December 3 through 19) at the Gaslight Theater (358 North Boyle Avenue; 314-458-2978 or www.stlas.org). Tickets are $20 to $25.
Thursdays-Sundays. Starts: Dec. 3. Continues through Dec. 19, 2010

 
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