“Dinner With the Boys”: My Off-Broadway Night Out

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Like most kids of the late-80s/early-90s, I grew up watching The Wonder Years. So it was my absolute honor and pleasure to RSVP “hell yeah” when I was invited to attend Dinner With the Boys at the Acorn Theater last Thursday, starring the iconic Wonder Years dad, Dan Lauria.

My plus one for the evening was my tag team partner, Rae, who immediately commented on what a great set they built as we were finding our seats (which were awesome, by the way). The Acorn Theater is small enough to be intimate, yet large enough not to feel crowded, and Rae was on-point in terms of the set. It looked exactly how an old school Italian kitchen would be set up, from the hanging tomatoes by the window, to the copper pots mounted on the walls.

Dinner With the Boys was was written by Mr. Lauria himself, who plays Charlie, and also stars Ray Abruzzo (The Sopranos) as Big Anthony Jr., and Richard Zavaglia (Donnie Brasco) as Dom. Not wanting to reveal any spoilers, I can summarize the play like this: It’s an Off-Broadway comedy that offers a hilarious spoof on mafia stereotypes with Vaudeville-like banter.

Much of the script consists of dialogue between Lauria and Zavaglia, who make a great comedy pair. Lauria’s loud voice, grumpy resting face, and aggressive demeanor created the perfect contrast to Zavaglia’s seemingly more gentle, sensitive persona. I personally couldn’t stop laughing at Ray Abruzzo, who played two characters, and embodied the perfect cliche versions of young Italian and old Jewish mobsters. What impressed me most, however, was how none of the guys missed a beat. Their lines were quick, the timing was sharp, and they executed the whole thing flawlessly. After watching these guys on television, it was wonderful to see them in a live theater production. It’s a completely different, more organic experience.

To top off a great show, there was a special part of the evening was when the three “boys” came back out onstage to chat with us. Dan Lauria greeted everyone at the Q&A session, sat down, and said “Last night, the audience was laughing so hard that we had to pause a couple times. You guys sucked.” Maybe it’s because I’m used to the gruff exterior of Brooklyn-born Italians from back in the day, but I thought he was hilarious. And I must say – Ray Abruzzo has some serious charm/swag about him.

dwtbDinner With the Boys is in New York City this summer, and tickets are only on sale through June 28th – as in, the end of this month. So PURCHASE TICKETS HERE to see three acting veterans in action. On Tuesdays, there’s also an option to upgrade to a ticket that includes actually having dinner with the cast at Tony’s DiNaopli after the 9pm show. But before you go, take note of the following:

  1. Greeks own a crapload of diners in NYC.
  2. The play centers around a metaphorical concept of “consuming” evil – so don’t get grossed out.
  3. F*ckin’ LAUGH if you want to. These guys are pros – they can easily pause for as long as it takes for the audience to calm down again.
  4. Poor Leo. Only the mafia can rub someone out, and then constantly reminisce about the good old days with said dead person.

Now, as everyone knows, no theater experience is complete without going to a restaurantwhere to go8a as well. So Rae and I finished our Off-Broadway night out with dinner at 5 Napkin Burger. Obviously, it’s a well-known chain here in the city, but I never had the chance to go before. Since it was my first time there, I ordered the Original 5 Napkin Burger with Gruyere cheese, caramelized onions and rosemary aioli. And fries with mayo, because duh. Hoh-lee-crap, it was bomb. I really have nothing more to say about it, so I’ll just leave you people with a photo of its amazingness.

Even though I’ve been in NYC for four years, I never had the chance to do the whole “dinner and a show” thing until last week. So me and Rae’s Off-Broadway night out was the perfect cherry-popping experience.