Little Neck eatery hosts actors promoting new theater project

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Some familiar faces enjoyed appetizers at Little Neck Italian restaurant Il Bacco on Tuesday, as three actors from iconic television shows stopped by to promote their new play, “Dinner with the Boys.”

Dan Lauria, Ray Abruzzo and Richard Zavaglia are the stars of the off-Broadway show, a spoof of stereotypical portrayals of the Italian-American community. In previous projects, the actors have even played some of these roles, such as mobsters and wise guys who love to eat, kill and curse. They stopped by the local eatery as part of a press crawl in Italian restaurants to increase awareness of their show.

The comedy has so far received favorable reviews from The New York Times and BroadwayWorld.com, with many other media outlets also raving with approval.

Abruzzo, a Queens native from a working-class Italian family, is very familiar with the “mobster” archetype, having appeared as Little Carmine Lupertazzi for four seasons on HBO smash hit “The Sopranos.”

“If it wasn’t for the whole ‘mob’ genre, and the Italian stereotypical genre that been exploited for all these years, this play wouldn’t exist,” Abruzzo said. “This play is a comment on that.”

The three veteran actors have known each other for decades, meeting while they were still competing for parts as struggling actors. Their rapport is easy and comfortable, making jokes with each other that show that they still get a kick out of spending time together.

The men say that their own long friendship gave them a jump start on developing the relationships between their characters in the play, who also have a lengthy history together.

“The goal is always to try to have as much fun on stage as we can,” said Lauria, who wrote “Dinner with the Boys” and had previously earned recognition for his role as the patriarch on television’s “The Wonder Years.” He added that Abruzzo’s onstage antics and sense of humor often draw unplanned bursts of laughter from himself and the audience members. “We’re at a point now where it is fun, we’re loosey-goosey up there.”

According to Zavaglia, who once studied under legendary acting coach Uta Hagen, the play’s stars have different approaches toward learning about their characters. He said that the process of rehearsal and line repetition are some of his favorite parts of being in any production.

“I still find things every night that come out different,” Zavaglia said. “I learn something.”

More information on the cast and performance schedule of “Dinner with the Boys” can be found here.


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