After a brutally tough winter and beginning of spring, Lebanon Community Theatre has proclaimed, "Let there be Sunshine!"
OK, the theatre folks can't control the weather.
But they can control what's on stage, and they're betting that their presentation of Neil Simon's "The Sunshine Boys" will provide the same catharsis as a sun-splashed, 70-degree day.
"I hope the audiences enjoy it," said LCT veteran Larry Sheaf, who is directing the show. "After being bottled up all winter, it's a great opportunity for people to come out, laugh and have a good time."
The show opens Thursday, April 9, and concludes Sunday, April 19.
"The Sunshine Boys" tells the story of Willie Clark and Al Lewis, who were partners and top-billed vaudevillains for more than 40 years. But now, they aren't on speaking terms. When CBS requests the pair for a "History of Comedy" retrospective, a grudging reunion brings them back together, along with a flood of memories, good and bad.
Working on the show is a joy for Sheaf because it's one of his favorites.
"I've always loved this show since I saw it in January 1973," Sheaf said during a recent rehearsal. "I always wanted to play Willie, but never had the opportunity to do that part."
The next best thing for Sheaf is directing the guy who earned the role of Willie — Will Shaffer.
"Will takes direction the first time and it becomes the part," Sheaf said. "It's a director's dream."
The multi-talented Shaffer also designed the set for LCT.
The rest of the cast includes Jack Ferry as Al Lewis, Andrew Groy as Ben Silverman, Neal Ambron as a patient, Ed Reazor as Eddie, Jennifer Menser as a nurse in a TV sketch and Priscilla Ebright as Willie's nurse.
There's one other character in the show that LCT audiences will hear, but not see. Four men will rotate in the role of a TV director, who will be in the darkened LCT balcony — Dr. Edward Tadajweski, Ryan Torres, Karl L. Wolf III and Timothy McKechnie.
"It's a very talented cast," Sheaf said. "I've worked with Jack (Ferry) before, and he does a great job. And it's fun to watch Andrew (Groy) grow (as an actor)."
It is the first speaking role for Groy in a LCT production. The recent La Salle University grad had a non-speaking part this winter in "Cabaret."
Sheaf had high praise for Ebright, who's helping to direct traffic backstage when she's not in a scene.
"Priscilla is very valuable to me backstage holding things together, and on stage as an actor," Sheaf said.
Helping Sheaf in the production are Jonathan Heise, assistant director; Vickie Hartman, stage manager; and Pam Shaffer, rehearsal assistant.
"The Sunshine Boys" debuted on Broadway in December 1972 and enjoyed a run of 538 performances before it closed in April 1974. A revival in 1997-98 had a shorter run with Jack Klugman and Tony Randall in the lead roles.
Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 9, 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18, and 2:30 p.m. April 12 and 19.
Tickets are $14 and $10 for the Thursday shows, April 9 and 16, and $16 and $12 for all other performances. To purchase tickets, visit the website at lebanontheatre.org or call the box office at 717-273-5151. Box-office hours are Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Sunday, 2 to 4 p.m.