The Sunshine Boys

Just before the holidays, actor Daniel Roebuck called me up to ask if I’d be able to help with the poster art for a local theater production he was producing, directing and acting in, Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys. I have a vague recollection of the George Burns/Walter Matthau film version from some Saturday afternoon television airing in my youth, and thought the assignment might be a fun one.

The story focuses on two elderly actors who had hit their prime as young men in the days of vaudeville. Daniel wanted the image to show the two lead actors as they are now in their twilight years, and also show them from their bygone days of the stage all while expressing that the play is a comedy.


Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys poster
A very stylized version of actors Daniel Roebuck and Jim Roope as young vaudevillians on the left with their elder counterparts looking down.


In researching old posters to elicit a nostalgic feel, I stumbled across a great French poster for The Marx Brothers movie A Night At the Opera. It provided a style and layout that would fit the needs of the play perfectly!  I don’t often follow another artist’s vision so closely as I did this time, but I figured “why not?” After all, the French artist liberally “borrowed” his caricatures from the great American artist Al Hirschfeld.


A Night At the Opera
A 1936 French poster for the Marx Bros. famous film “A Night At the Opera” that is clearly based on the caricatures of Al Hirschfeld.


I believe the art will also serve as the cover of the program. If you’d like to get your own copy, Dan Roebuck’s play opens tonight in Burbank, CA and will be playing for two weekends (January 7, 8, 9, 14 and 15) as a fundraiser. If you are interested in seeing the production, tickets are available by calling (818) 504-4400.