New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


Tune into Radio Jersey with Lee Mrowicki every Monday through Friday from 6pm to 8pm
Broadcast on Asbury Music!

Dan Lauria: Dinner With The Boys

By Gary Wien


This article was originally designed to be read in the September 2014 issue of
New Jersey Stage magazine. To read it in its original format, click here

Dan Lauria says he doesn't like to look back, but it's hard not to imagine his old friends Charles Durning, Jack Klugman, Dom Del Louise, and Peter Falk during "Dinner With The Boys", a new play Lauria wrote and stars in at New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch. The play, which was originally written with those four actors in mind, runs until October 5 and is one of the hottest theater tickets in the state. Nearly every performance was sold out before the run began, a first for the company.

Best known for his work as the father on "The Wonder Years", his stage acting resume is very impressive, and even more so when you examine his passion for doing new plays instead of revivals. He's famous for saying, he doesn't do plays by dead white guys. What many people don't know is he not only has an MFA in playwriting, but originally came to New York City to be a playwright. In fact, Charles Durning, who became a father figure for Lauria, helped him get his first production mounted on Off-Broadway in just a few years. The experience helped him land an agent and his acting career took off. It's one that has landed him roles in films, television and even Broadway. So, why is he holding the world premiere of his play at the tiny playhouse in Long Branch, NJ?

It's because the theater shares the same mission as he does.

"It feels great to be here with Gabe and SuzAnne Barabas," said Lauria. "Gabe's one of the few people who ever listened to me. I told him years ago when they first got started that no theater ever made a name by doing a revival and 99% of the plays he produces are originals… For me, it feels great to be here… to be able to literally have a place where you can try and fail, and go back and try again, until you get the play to where you want it to be.

"In the first public reading [of "Dinner With The Boys"], Peter wasn't there and I read his part, but we read it again at Peter's house for a very limited audience and it was quite an experience," continued Lauria. "But then Dom got sick and so did Peter, and they both passed. I didn't feel right about sending it out. When Charley and Jack passed a couple of years ago, the first person I thought of was Gabe. I said if you want to do this, let's make a time and I'll turn down work and come over there and we'll see if we can get it to work."

In "Dinner With The Boys", Dan plays Charlie, an aging mobster who lives as a "ghost" with Dom in a New Jersey home as the pair await their punishment from Big Anthony, Jr. for failing to do a hit they were ordered to do. It's a very funny comedy which shows a different side of mobsters - from Charlie's work in the garden to Dom's culinary wonders in the kitchen - and a story that truly believes you are what you eat.

"It's deliberately written as an old fashioned play," explained Lauria. "There are two acts. Even with an intermission it runs less than two hours. It's one set and there's very little special effects. I'm tired of seeing movies being put on stage and telling everybody it's a play. This is a play. It's something I hope other regional theaters will do because it's easy to produce."

The cast includes Ray Abruzzo who played "Little Carmine Lupertazzi" in the Sopranos, Morris "Moe" Rosenbaum, Richard Zavaglia, and Lauria. It's directed by Frank Megna. Lauria says that everyone was involved in adding little bits and pieces to the script and he was completely fine with that even if it seemed a bit odd to others in the crew.

"I'm working as an actor would write, not as a writer would write," he said. "When an actor comes up and says can you change this or here's a good joke, we try it and we actually do it. I don't sit back and say no, it's not what I wrote. I'd say about 8 out of every 10 suggestions the director and the other actors have given me are in the script… and I'm going to take full credit for it - they know that!"

Lauria has been following the advice Charles Durning gave him long ago: never go a year without doing a play. He's been able to follow that advice throughout his career, even while starring in "The Wonder Years" and his current show "Sullivan & Sons" on TBS. He says if you count acting, writing, and directing, "Dinner With The Boys" is his 60th production. The resume included shows off-Broadway and in regional theaters, but never on Broadway until the past few years in which he's been in "A Christmas Story" and "Lombardi", both times originating a role.

"I had a lot of offers to do Broadway over the years, but they were all revivals," said Lauria. "So, to me, to be on Broadway three years in a row with a brand new play that I originated… that was the ultimate of my career. Between Lombardi and A Christmas Story, Sullivan & Sons and now this with The Wonder Years on DVD, I've stuck around so long I'm new again!"



For more by this author, click here



More Articles You Might Like

NJPAC Presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies
NJPAC Presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies
Jonny Amies To Star In "My Very Own British Invasion" at Paper Mill Playhouse
Jonny Amies To Star In "My Very Own British Invasion" at Paper Mill Playhouse
NJ Rep To Present World Premiere of "Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis
NJ Rep To Present World Premiere of "Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis
Our Gang Players presents "The Wizard of Oz"
Our Gang Players presents "The Wizard of Oz"
The Simon & Garfunkel Story Comes To The Basie On January 23
The Simon & Garfunkel Story Comes To The Basie On January 23
Luna Stage Presents World Premiere of "Roan @ The Gates"
Luna Stage Presents World Premiere of "Roan @ The Gates"






Event calendar
Sunday, Feb 17, 2019


MUSIC

A NINA SIMONE TRIBUTE @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

Cherish the Ladies @ Stockton Performing Arts Center (StocktonPAC) in Galloway, Galloway - 2:00pm

SHANGHAI OPERA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 3:00pm

Red Velvet 2nd Concert [REDMARE] in USA @ Prudential Hall @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 7:00pm

The Green Planet at Rockaway Mall ! @ Rockaway Mall, Rockaway - 1:00pm


THEATRE

Angelina Ballerina The Musical @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 2:00pm

An Enemy Of The People @ Centenary Stage Company - Sitnik Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 2:00pm

Ragtime @ Eagle Theatre, Hammonton - 3:00pm

My Very Own British Invasion @ Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn - 1:30pm and 7:00pm

A Better Place To Be @ The Growing Stage: The Childrens Theatre of New Jersey, Netcong - 4:00pm

CHICAGO, THE MUSICAL @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 2:00pm

Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical @ George Street Playhouse, New Brunswick - 2:00pm and 7:00pm

MadMan, a solo show by Jake Robertson @ Class of 1970 Theatre, Whitman College, Princeton - 8:00pm

KICKING & SWEARING One-Act Festival (Programs A & B) @ Hamilton Stage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 2:00pm

Psychodrama @ Oakes Center, Summit - 2:00pm

SOLO FLIGHTS: Bicycle Face @ Passage Theatre Company, Trenton - 3:00pm

Roan at The Gates @ Luna Stage, West Orange - 3:00pm







FILM

DISNEY'S FROZEN SING-A-LONG @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 1:00pm and 4:00pm


KIDS

Erth’s Prehistoric Aquarium Adventure @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 1:00pm and 4:00pm

View all events
























New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.