Among Dan Lauria’s, many talents, he is a versatile actor. It is this versatility that has elevated him to become beloved in whatever medium he undertakes. He has succeeded in theater, film, and television, appearing as a guest star in over 70 television episodic programs and more than 20 Movie of the Week productions. He has a score of film credits which include Stakeout, Another Stakeout, the blockbuster Independence Day, and the cult comedy Alien Trespass.
Though best known for his television work in The Wonder Years, Lauria has been a mainstay in regional theater, having performed in, written, or directed over 50 professional stage productions. And with amazing accuracy and an uncanny resemblance he portrayed iconic Greenbay Packers football coach Vince Lombardi in Lombardi on Broadway.
In 2012-14 Lauria played Jack Sullivan on the Steve Byrne sitcom Sullivan and Son. And in 2012 he managed to sandwich in the role of Jean Shepard in the Broadway musical version of the Christmas classic, A Christmas Story. A Christmas Story: The Musical was a rollicking, Tony- and Drama Desk-nominated production in which Lauria has continued to perform during subsequent Christmas seasons. He reprised the role off-Broadway at Madison Square Garden in 2013 and 2014, and the show continues to inspire audiences to remember a nostalgic time when Christmas was about family and togetherness.
It turns out that Lauria is not only a versatile actor who is willing to stretch his talents and resources as a director, he is also a writer. After working on drafts of his original comedy Dinner With the Boys over a number of years, he completed the play and it was mounted at New Jersey Rep in Long Branch, where audiences embraced it enthusiastically. How could they not? It is about Italian-American wise guys preparing and having dinner under duress. What’s not to love? The audience enjoyed every cultural nuance that goes with being an Italian-American. It was “hit the spot” delicious, indeed perhaps as delicious and fun as Grandma’s Sunday dinner of spaghetti, gravy and meatballs.
Because of the overwhelming response to this satiric takeoff on wise guys and sumptuous food, it was decided that the feast must continue in larger quarters so more could enjoy it. As a result Dinner With The Boys has crossed the river into Manhattan where it will be given its Off-Broadway debut at the Acorn Theatre in New York City.
What makes Dinner With The Boys resonate with audiences is that it is a comedy about two guys connected to a tight crime family who now face a dilemma that may or may not have to do with refusing offers and swimming with the fishes. Charlie (Lauria) and Dom (Richard Zavaglia) prepare a dinner of laughs, all the while adding the ironic and spicy condiments to season a sumptuous and hysterical production. As the pasta is cooking, they reflect about their glory days, knowing that at any moment the knock on the door will signal their fate. Whichever way it goes, this will be a supper to remember.
The ensemble cast share a camaraderie from the many years they have known and worked together. This gives the show its authenticity, pop and zing. Richard Zavaglia, a stage and screen actor who was on Broadway in Chapter Two and Passione and who also appeared in the film Donnie Brasco with Al Pacino, is with Lauria onstage for almost all of the performance as his cooking buddy. Ray Abruzzo, who portrayed Little Carmine for four seasons on HBO’s The Sopranos and who also appeared on television in The Practice and Dynasty adds to the evening of hilarity (I will not tell you how). Steering the dinner’s comedy to its conclusion is director Frank Megna, a seasoned actor and writer who has appeared in The Seekers, Veronica Clare and Breath of Hate. Having directed the New Jersey Rep production of Dinner With The Boys he is shepherding it through its Manhattan run as well.
Dinner With the Boys will be in previews at the Acorn Theater at Theater Row (410 W. 42 St.) in New York City beginning Tuesday, April 21. The official opening is Monday evening, May 4. Tickets are $75.00.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B006CR2OOA][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00005JMN7][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B009904NK0]