Tag Archives: Off-Broadway

Little Neck eatery hosts actors promoting new theater project

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

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.


13-year-old Queens girl wins theater award

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Colby Christina


When Colby Christina was 2 years old, she started dancing. She was 4 when her teachers told her she would be a star one day. She took that to heart and decided she wanted to be a performer. Now, at the age of 13, she is going to be awarded the Rising Star trophy at the 42nd Annual Viv Awards, organized by the Audience Development Committee Inc. (Audelco) to celebrate black theater.

Christina is being recognized for her portrayal of Alice in “The Liberation of Mother Goose,” an off-Broadway play. The award, which she will receive on Nov. 17 at a ceremony at Symphony Space in Manhattan, came as a surprise to Christina, but she is excited about it.

“I feel it is for everything I have accomplished and all the hard work I put into the play has paid off,” she said. “To perform at the historic Billie Holiday Theater, it was a privilege.”

Christina, a resident of St. Albans, is an accomplished dancer, singer and actress, and said that with Alice, she got the opportunity to “intertwine all those experiences together and express myself in a full manner.”


In her short career, she has managed to perform at the Museum of Natural History, the Jamaica Performing Arts Theater, the Seeds of Hope Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria and the Kumble Theater, to name a few. At the same time, she is an exceptional student whose favorite subject, she said, is science. She is a high school freshman and an ambassador promoting STEM education. If that wasn’t enough, she has also started the paperwork to fulfill her dream of opening a dance school, called CC Dance Company.

“Time management is key,” she said, explaining how she has managed to achieve so much in so few years. “I’ve learned that over the years.”

Christina is inspired by her parents but said her brother Robert is her role model. “He told me, ‘Stars are born, not made,’” she said. “I live by that every day.”



Off-Broadway alive and well, Hannibal the Cannibal kills ‘em

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com



Sometimes less is more.

The Broadway stage has always been the ultimate goal of every actor, singer and dancer.  But the truth is that there are only so many stages, a handful of productions and not enough parts to go around.

The solution?  Off-Broadway.

Not that many years ago established actors would not dream of appearing on television.  Doing so signaled that their careers were approaching terminal velocity.  The same held true for Off-Broadway productions.  They were minimalist and skimpy; the talent was marginal, the theaters were dark and dank and the productions were a step above high school plays.

Not so any more.  Although top names are regulars on the boards of Off-Broadway productions, these shows are a great breeding ground for up and coming talent.  Does that mean that everything is coming up roses?  Of course not!  No more so than thinking that every Broadway production is a Tony winner.

Two shows currently performing are examples of how good writing, great talent and loads of enthusiasm can keep an Off-Broadway show running. Both have gone from pillar to post in locations but currently appear to have settled in.

The unlikely topic for a musical, the story of Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lechter, Jody Foster’s 1991 chilling movie, the parody has found a devoted audience.  Opening in 2005 somewhere in the far reaches of “way off Broadway” and moving its incarnation through several theaters and a public school auditorium to its current location in Times Square’s Elektra Theater has its audience literally rolling in the aisles.

Its genesis is truly amazing.  The show started off as an Internet parody and made its way to a small theater.  That it has grown, moved to decent quarters and entertained audiences for so many years is quite telling.  

Pamela Bob as fledgling FBI agent Clarice Starling (Foster’s role) is a spot on characterization.  Sean McDermott as the cannibalistic Hannibal plays the role with just enough tongue-in-cheek so that the characterization doesn’t go so far overboard as to become silly.

The musical parody numbers are side-splitting although one or two of them go a bit too far overboard.  One particular parody song, a truly offensive reference to a particular portion of the female anatomy, was way over done.  The first rendition was great for shock value and was funny.  The second was a bit much and the repetition bordered on the offensive.

The sets are minimalist (as is common for most Off-Broadway productions) but effective.  The take on the original movie was well-done.  The cast meshes well.

While some long-running Off-Broadway shows, such as The Fantastiks, have long since run out their string, Silence! The Musical has the chops to entertain audiences for a long time to come.

The show runs 90 minutes with no intermission.  Tickets are interestingly listed at:

$79 for “The Most Moisturized;” $35 Cocktail seating (including one cocktail); $59 Regular (FBI Headquarters); and $25, “The Cheap Seats where the lambs linger.

The show only plays three times weekly: Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m.


Another show that has gone from pillar to post in its venue over the years is Forbidden Broadway, Alive and Kicking, now playing at the 47th Street Theater.  One of the reasons this show has managed to last in one incarnation or another for three decades is the plethora of material from new shows.

The other…it’s just plain, damn funny.

The exceptionally talented cast hits hard at such shows as Book of Mormon, Death of a Salesman, Porgy and Bess, Once, Evita, Anything Goes and others, delighting the audiences with both sharp wit and great humor.  Even Hugh Jackman felt the barbs for his turn in Les Miz.  They should have turned on Russell Crowe instead; he was better fodder for satire.

Lindsay Nicole Chambers, a recent addition to the cast, replacing Jenny Lee Stern, has an eclectic background having played a gender-troubled velociraptor in Triassic Parc and Robin in Lysistrata Jones.  She’s also done turns in Legally Blond and Hairspray.

In combo with Natalie Charlé Ellis, Scott Richard Foster and Marcus Stevens, the high energy show never slows and the laughs never stop.  You don’t have to be familiar with all of the shows they are parodying.  The lines and songs are mostly familiar and the twists given to them brought tears to the eyes.

The show closes on April 10, so hurry and enjoy an evening.  But don’t despair; we’d be willing to bet it’ll be back along with the new crop of shows in the fall and the sharp edge of wit that will skewer the main line performers.

Tuesday at 8pm
Wednesday at 2pm
Thursday and Friday at 8pm
Saturday at 2pm and 8pm
Sunday at 3pm and 7:30pm

Pricing: $29 – $79
Box Office: TeleCharge (212) 239-6200