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Review: Dinner With The Boys

By Gary Wien


(LONG BRANCH, NJ) — Before each play, Gabor Barabas (Executive Producer at New Jersey Repertory Company) gives a little speech in which he tries to sell attendees on a season subscription, points out the emergency exits, and urges them to be ambassadors and tell their friends about the show. As a theater company that almost exclusively presents new works, word of mouth is vital for the company. But before the start of "Dinner With The Boys," Barabas took a very different approach.

"Don't tell anyone about the play!" said Barabas, pointing out that for the first time in the company's history the entire run was basically sold out prior to the first production. As theatergoers continued to push for tickets, NJ Rep was able to extend the run for an extra week. The final production is now Sunday, October 12 at 2pm. Even with the extra week, this production is easily the hottest ticket in the state... and for good reason.

"Dinner With The Boys" is a new play by Dan Lauria, a playwright/actor best known for playing the father on "The Wonder Years" hit TV show. It was quite the coup for NJ Rep to land this production as it's not often one gets to see an actor of Lauria's stature in such an intimate space and even less often to see a major work like this premiered outside of the city. NJ Rep benefited from a long-time relationship with Lauria and a reputation based on presenting new works - a mission Lauria truly believes in.

"Dinner With The Boys" stars Lauria alongside Ray Abruzzo (who played Little Carmine Lupertazzi on The Sopranos), and Richard Zavaglia (a veteran of stage and screen who has appeared in such films as Donnie Brasco with Al Pacino and Johnny Depp.)

The play deals with a pair of aging mobsters: Charlie (played by Lauria) and Dominic (played by Zavaglia) who are hiding out in a house in the suburbs of New Jersey while they await their punishment by Big Anthony Jr. (played by Abruzzo) for failing to complete a hit they were ordered to do.

It's an old-fashioned comedy, exactly what Lauria set out to create. In an interview with New Jersey Stage, Lauria said he was tired of seeing movies being put on stage and telling everybody it's a play. "This is a play," he explained.

Lauria does a wonderful job bringing the audience into the world of mobsters we rarely see. This is the world in they are revealed as human beings, albeit with a few quirks. They enjoy the peace and quiet of the suburbs, they dream of owning their own restaurant, and they eat vegetables from the same garden where bodies were buried! Meanwhile, they live in fear as "ghosts" according the business - people who are dead already, but just don't know it yet.

As the play roles on, ugly truths rise to the surface. Charlie and Dominic learn much about their roles in the "family" and why they have found themselves in their current situation. Charlie once was a "made man", but now realizes it's them versus the family. Murder is their only escape. The family is coming after them and the pressure leads to Charlie and Dominic turning on each other. The question is who will be left in the end?

"Dinner With The Boys" is an often hilarious production with wonderful actors. Originally written for Lauria's friends and mentors (Peter Falk, Dom DeLuise, Jack Klugman, and Charles Durning) who have sadly passed away, this production is one all four would truly be proud of.

NJ Rep has always taken a risk by presenting new works, but this past year has seen a major leap forward with the actors on stage. The combination is taking the Jersey Shore company to new levels. It's exciting and rewarding to see a company grow like this.

"Dinner With The Boys" is directed by Frank Megna. The production team includes: Jessica Parks (Set Design & Props), Jill Nagle (Lighting Design), Merek Royce Press (Sound Design), Patricia E. Doherty (Costume Design), Michael Carroll (Technical Director), and Jennifer Tardibuono (Stage Manager).



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Holmdel Theatre Company Presents 'ART'
(HOLMDEL, NJ) – The Holmdel Theatre Company (HTC) will present 6 performances of Yasmina Reza’s ‘ART’  from December 7th through December 16th. Translated from French by Christopher Hampton, the play tells the story of what happens when Serge buys an expensive painting, and the reactions of his two closest friends, Marc and Yvan, to his purchase. As what begins as a discussion about the quality of the painting that Serge has purchased quickly devolves into petty jabs and personal attacks, the three men border on destroying their friendships.
Pebble Players Presents "Heathers, the Musical: High School Edition"
(SUMMIT, NJ) -- Celebrating their 10th season, Pebble Players has been entertaining Summit residents and audiences from surrounding towns with sophisticated Off-Broadway quality performances. The 2018 Season opens with "Heathers The Musical: High School Edition," directed by Jayne Myers and choreographed by Jaimie Woodruff.  Performances are Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17 at 7:30pm and Sunday, November 18 at 2:00pm. 
NJPAC Presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies
(NEWARK, NJ) -- New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies from Thursday, March 21, 2019 - Saturday, March 23, 2019. The high-style music of “The Duke” is the heart and soul of this 1981 Tony-winning Broadway hit, directed with dazzle by André De Shields (The Wiz). Mercedes Ellington, granddaughter of Duke Ellington, re-creates the original show’s elegant dancing and tapping as choreographer.
Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater present Teahouse by Lao She
(PRINCETON, NJ) --Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University will present Teahouse by Lao She on November 16, 17 and 18 at 8:00pm and November 17 at 2:00pm in the Donald G. Drapkin Studio at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus. Teahouse is considered a masterpiece of contemporary Chinese theater, spanning 50 years in modern Chinese history from the collapse of the Qing dynasty and the Republican Revolution to the birth of the People’s Republic, bringing together over sixty characters who represent all walks of life. The production is directed by senior Changshuo Liu.
Axelrod's Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts Program Presents "Peter Pan"
(OCEAN TOWNSHIP, NJ) --  A family musical that’s perfect for the holiday season, “Peter Pan” is flying onto the Axelrod stage December 8-16. Axelrod’s award-winning Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts program presents one of Broadway’s timeless classics in a fully staged production directed by Lisa Goldfarb with musical direction by Randy Hurst and choreography by Wendy Roman.  


Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s Friday, October 26, 2018, and the Broadway’s Next H!T Musical cast is just about ready to take the stage at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ.
The Last Apple Pie: "Apples In Winter" Opens At Centenary Stage
Jennifer Fawcett’s new play centers around a mother in a kitchen, doing something countless people across America will take part in over the upcoming holiday season: making an apple pie.
See Andrea McArdle LIVE! in Annie at Deal Park’s Axelrod PAC!
Leapin’ Lizards! Annie’s finally made it to the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal Park, NJ, and it stars Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle, as Miss Hannigan!
"It's a Blast!" Go See Rock of Ages 10th Anniversary Tour NOW! at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino!
The five-time Tony award-nominated Broadway musical, Rock of Ages, returns to the stage with a 10th Anniversary Tour at Atlantic City’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino! Performed in the venue’s ultra-modern Sound Waves theater, Rock of Ages runs from now until November 4, 2018.
There's One In Every Family: "Charley's Aunt" at The Shakespeare Theatre
On stage now through November 18 at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, “Charley’s Aunt” is described as “part Oscar Wilde, part ‘Fawlty Towers,’ with a dash of South American spice!” This side-splitting British farce from 1892 has drag, mistaken identity, romance and plenty of physical comedy. Join Jesse and Dave at rehearsals in Florham Park to hear from the cast and director what makes this such a hilarious and enduring show.






Event calendar
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018


MUSIC

New Politics @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

THE REPUTATIONS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

TOTO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


THEATRE

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

ANNIE, The Musical @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 7:30pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 7:30pm

Spring Awakening: The Rock Musical @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm







DANCE

PARSONS DANCE @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


FILM

Crybaby Matinee: March of the Penguins @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

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