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The Jag

By Gary Wien

originally published: 12/22/2016

The Jag

When a friend told Gino DiIorio that Jack Klugman was looking for a new project, the playwright came up with The Jag - a play loosely based upon his own father and his desire to fix up his classic Jaguar car. The play was written with Klugman in mind and sent to him.  Gino says Klugman read it, liked it, but passed on the play.  And he wasn’t alone.

Despite being a finalist in a pair of play competitions and winning the 2010 Firehouse Theatre’s Great American New Play Award, The Jag never got a full production.  Chances are it’s because the play needs a car on stage and not just any car, it needs a Jaguar.

Flash forward to 2017 when New Jersey Repertory Company will give The Jag its long awaited full production - complete with a car on stage. 

The play revolves around 70 year-old “Chick” Chicarella and his 1967 Jaguar that is in desperate need of repair. The suggestion is made that the two fix up the car and sell it off, but realizing they need help they hire Carla — someone who is an expert in Jaguars but utterly lacking in social skills.  Together, the three learn some hard lessons about repairing cars and smoothing out life’s jagged edges.

“I can’t die, I’ve got to finish the Jag” was something Gino’s father would often say.  “I always thought that was funny,” said Gino. “Because it was one of those projects that never seemed to end. And then we lost my mom and my father developed lung cancer and was starting to go.  Out of nowhere he said, ‘maybe it’s time to sell this damn car.’ I thought in the back of my mind that it was kind of strange.  You know how you hold on to things like holding on until your kid graduates school? It seemed like he wanted to hang on to finish the car and then he realized he wasn’t going to be able to see it.”

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Gino says his father was a very good mechanic and a great craftsman who saw himself as an artist.  They always had several junk cars in the yard that needed repairs, but as the cars came and went, the Jag always remained.  It became a member of the family.

The play is a father/son story that has many funny moments.  Gino describes it as a ‘sweet play without being too sentimental.’  The father and son have difficulties with one another and are ok with that.  They actually give the project more of an effort than Gino and his father did. 

“My father and I worked together for about two weeks,” Gino recalled.  “He was a body shop man.  I worked with him for a while and then he said, ‘Look, if you’re going to work with your hands, you’re going to starve. You need to do something else.’  And he was right, I was not very good at it at all.”

In real life there was no Carla, but the play not only benefits from her addition - she generally steals the show.  Gino thinks that may be one reason Klugman passed on the play.

The Jag is one of those plays that a lot of people read and said they loved, but ‘how the hell are we going to put a car on stage?’” said Gino.  “I wrote to my friend.  The next time I decide to write a play with a car on stage just shoot me! But they did it.  NJ Rep put a freaking car on stage!”

The Jag runs January 12 through February 12 at NJ Rep in Long Branch, NJ. Directed by Brendan Burke, the cast includes Estelle Bajou, Dan Grimaldi, and Christopher Daftsios.

The Jag


Jessica Parks has designed an outstanding set for The Jag. Here we see technical director, Brian Snyder, and his team working on the set.  In the top photo, we see playwright Gino Dilorio next to the car.

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Broadway’s Mandy Gonzalez LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
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Event calendar
Saturday, Nov 17, 2018


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

HERMAN'S HERMITS STARRING PETER NOONE & THE BUCKINGHAMS @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Nelson Riveros Trio: “The Latin Side of Wes Montgomery” @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Hawaiian Music and Hula @ 1867 Sanctuary at Ewing, Ewing - 8:00pm

Pop 2000 Tour @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

THE MACHINE PERFORMS PINK FLOYD @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 8:00pm


Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm

Swamp Boogie Trio @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm


Annie @ Broad Street United Methodist Church, Burlington - 8:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Annie @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 8:00pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Billy Bishop Goes to War @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 2:00pm

Kiss Me Kate @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Phoenix Productions Presents: The Hunchback of Notre Dame @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Enchanted April @ The Summit Playhouse, Summit - 8:00pm

Heathers, The Musical High School Edition @ Pebble Players, Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

Into the Woods @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm

The Drowsy Chaperone @ Lauren K. Woods Theatre at Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 8:00pm


Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm


BALLET FOLKLORICO DE MEXICO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


ROALD DAHL’S WILLY WONKA JR. @ Ridgewood Ave School Theater, Glen Ridge - 1:00pm and 7:00pm


Mainebiz Health Care Forum @ Mainebiz Health Care Forum, Newyork - 8:00pm

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