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Danny DeVito makes West End debut with Richard Griffiths in Sunshine Boys

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As previously tipped, Hollywood star Danny DeVito will make his West End debut starring alongside Richard Griffiths in a new version of Neil Simon's comedy The Sunshine Boys.

The production will follow Legally Blonde at the West End's Savoy Theatre, playing a limited 12-week season from 17 May (previews from 27 April) to 28 July 2012.

The comedy, which premiered on Broadway in 1972 and was adapted into a 1975 film starring George Burns and Walter Matthau, is being updated by Simon. Thea Sharrock will helm the production, which is produced by Sonia Friedman.

The Sunshine Boys focuses on Al Lewis (Griffiths) and Willy Clark (DeVito), a vaudevillian team who grew to hate each other and never spoke to each other off-stage during the final months of their 40-year act. The pair are reunited for a television special on the history of comedy, with much of show's humour derived from efforts to get the two cantankerous actors into the same room for rehearsals.

Richard Griffiths' myriad stage credits include West End outings in Equus alongside Daniel Radcliffe and Heroes alongside John Hurt and Ken Stott, as well as recent National Theatre appearances in The Habbit of Art and The History Boys.

His recent screen roles include the Harry Potter franchise, the most recent instalment of the Pirates of the Caribbean films and the 2005 film adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Best known for his Hollywood film appearances, Danny DeVito starred in Off-Broadway productions such as The Comedy of Errors and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest in the early 1970s, going on to star in the Oscar-winning film adaptation. On screen he won both a Golden Globe and an Emmy award for his portrayal of Louie De Palma in the hit US comedy Taxi, a role he played for five years.

DeVito's extensive film credits include Terms of Endearment, Romancing the Stone, The Jewel of the Nile, Junior, Twins and Ruthless People. He also appeared as the Penguin opposite Michael Keaton’s Batman in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns and will shortly voice the title character in the big screen adaptation of Dr Seuss' The Lorax before returning as Frank Reynolds in the eighth season It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia this autumn. As a director DeVito’s credits include Matilda, The War of the Roses and Hoffa.

Further casting for The Sunshine Boys will be announced shortly.

Neil Simon’s career has spanned more than five decades as a playwright and screen writer. His first Broadway play, Come Blow Your Horn, opened in 1961. His second, Little Me, earned him his first Tony Award nomination and by 1966 Simon had four shows running on Broadway at the same time - Sweet Charity, The Star-Spangled Girl, The Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park.

He has won three Tony Awards - Best Author for The Odd Couple, Best Play for Biloxi Blues and Best Play for Lost in Yonkers - and been nominated for 17. He also has also written the books for several musicals including Sweet Charity.

Thea Sharrock directed the Olivier Award-winning After The Dance at the National Theatre in 2011 where she recently helmed 13 in the NT Olivier. She directed Griffiths in Equus alongside Daniel Radcliffe in both the West End and on Broadway, and in Heroes at the Wyndham’s Theatre. Her recent credits also include Cause Célèbre at the Old Vic and The Misanthrope at the Comedy. She was artistic director of Southwark Playhouse from 2001 to 2003 and the Gate Theatre from 2004 to 2006.

The Sunshine Boys is designed by Hildegard Bechtler with lighting by Neil Austin and sound by Ian Dickinson for Autograph.

Currently playing at the Savoy, Legally Blonde The Musical has announced it will close in the West End on Saturday 7 April 2012. The production, now in its third year in the West End, opened in December 2009 and went on to win seven major theatre awards including the Whatsonstage.com and Olivier Awards for Best Musical.


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