Monday , May 27 2024
Lauria's play 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. After a successful run in New Jersey it opens Off-Broadway next month.

‘Dinner With the Boys’ Written by and Starring Dan Lauria Begins Previews Off-Broadway April 21

Dan Lauria, 'Dinner With The Boys,' Acorn Theatre,
Dan Lauria in ‘Dinner With The Boys’ at The Acorn Theatre in NYC. Opening May 4. Previews begin on April 21.  Photo by Carole Di Tosti

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.

Frank Megna, 'Dinner With The Boys,' Acorn Theatre
Frank Megna, director of ‘Dinner With The Boys’ written by Dan Lauria and opening at the Acorn Theatre May 4. In previews starting April 21. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

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.

Frank Megna, Dan Lauria, Ray Abruzzo, Richard Zavaglia, 'Dinner With The Boys,' Acorn Theatre
Director Frank Megna with Dan Lauria, Ray Abruzzo and Richard Zavaglia in ‘Dinner With The Boys’ at the Acorn Theatre in previews April 21, opening May 4. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

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.

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About Carole Di Tosti

Carole Di Tosti, Ph.D. is a published writer, playwright, novelist, poet. She owns and manages three well-established blogs: 'The Fat and the Skinny,' 'All Along the NYC Skyline' ( 'A Christian Apologists' Sonnets.' She also manages the newly established 'Carole Di Tosti's Linchpin,' which is devoted to foreign theater reviews and guest reviews. She contributed articles to Technorati (310) on various trending topics from 2011-2013. To Blogcritics she has contributed 583+ reviews, interviews on films and theater predominately. Carole Di Tosti also has reviewed NYBG exhibits and wine events. She guest writes for 'Theater Pizzazz' and has contributed to 'T2Chronicles,' 'NY Theatre Wire' and other online publications. She covers NYC trending events and writes articles promoting advocacy. She professionally free-lanced for TMR and VERVE for 1 1/2 years. She was a former English Instructor. Her published dissertation is referenced in three books, two by Margo Ely, Ph.D. Her novel 'Peregrine: The Ceremony of Powers' will be on sale in January 2021. Her full length plays, 'Edgar,' 'The Painter on His Way to Work,' and 'Pandemics or How Maria Caught Her Vibe' are being submitted for representation and production.

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