When Charlie and Dom, two wise guys from the old neighborhood, find themselves at odds with the Family, they must serve up perfectly seasoned performances with their spicy puttanesca to escape danger. This odd couple awaits their fate as they prepare dinner for their special guests. Written by Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years), Dinner with the Boys is an evening filled with belly-laughs, killer plot twists, and plenty of garlic. The only question remaining– will this dinner be their last meal?
As the lights come up, Charlie and Dominic are getting ready for dinner, a special one, at least that’s what Dom keeps saying. Unbeknownst to Charlie, Dom’s expecting a special guest.
See, Charlie and Dom are dead… sort of. Really they’ve been “relocated,” let’s say, by family boss Big Anthony Jr. The rest of the boys think they’re dead, but they’ve actually been hiding in a small town a couple hours outside of Brooklyn.
A few months ago, the family’s higher-ups suspected one of their boys, Leo, was a rat. So, Big Anthony Jr. ordered Leo’s best friends Charlie and Dom to take him out, even after 30 years of loyal service to the family. When they found out they had to put the hit on Leo, Dom and Charlie couldn’t do it, so Big Anthony finished the job himself and punished them. Not only did he exile them from the city, but he instructed them to save Leo’s body and eat him over the next few months. He told them to call him for the last meal, which would be made from sweet cervello, telling them, “Maybe I’ll let you live.”
Charlie’s a little nervous. His temper seems unpredictable and he talks about running away, escaping from the family and starting a new life as far from Brooklyn as they can get. That doesn’t sound too bad, until Dom reminds Charlie of Izzy Schultz, who hid from the family for 12 years before he was “made an example” in the middle of the Arizona desert. They talk about Izzy for a while, about Leo, a few hits he and Charlie made, until Charlie asks what they’re having for dinner. “CERVELLO!” Dom says, “The ole’ Italian sweet bread.” Charlie’s in disbelief— he knows cervello can only mean one thing: Big Anthony Jr’s coming to dinner.
A few moments later, there’s a knock on the door, and before long, Big Anthony Jr. is lumbering through the kitchen, demanding food, dotage, and respect. Dom busies himself getting the dinner ready while Big Anthony and Charlie talk. Now it’s time for the main course: sweet cervello à la Leo with some broccoli rabe from the garden. Big Anthony has the meal all planned out, telling Dom, “Watch how I devour your friend here. Then you know what I’m gonna do?” Dom suggests he take a walk, like he and Charlie always do, but Anthony has other ideas, “Maybe later. First, I’m gonna watch Charlie kill you.”
Charlie can’t kill Dom, but Anthony insists. Dominic, however, doesn’t seem to mind; “Well Charlie, if that’s your orders.” Charlie’s confused, but Anthony couldn’t be happier. Actually, he’d be happier with some hot red pepper for the cervello, which Dom is happy to offer him.
Charlie can’t figure out why Dom is so calm. On top of that, Big Anthony wants someone to open a window. In fact, he demands it. Those must have been some hot peppers, because Junior is clutching his throat, running around the kitchen, falling to the floor— he’s been poisoned! Dom, ever the excellent cook, poisoned the red pepper with “an acid that has a lime base.” Big Anthony Jr. tries to fight back, but he can’t get up off the floor— he’s a goner. Charlie can’t believe it; he had no idea Dom was capable of anything like this. Now that Big Anthony’s gone, maybe they can find some peace in their lives outside the city.
Act II opens on Charlie and Dom finishing another dinner. Their lives have been pretty quiet for the last few months. Charlie is in good spirits after another one of Dom’s excellent dishes, but Dom seems disheartened. He tells Charlie the main course for the next night will be cervello, which, as Charlie knows, means the end of Big Anthony Junior, who’s been their main ingredient since they ran out of Leo.
Charlie has a plan, though. This time, he wants to go back to the city! Charlie could go back and tell the boys that he killed Junior, give them a whole story about where he and Dom have been, and run the family himself. Dom tells him he’s had too much red meat and can’t think straight, pointing out that there’s no explanation for where Junior’s body went or what they’ve been doing for almost a year. However, Dom has a plan too. He found a little storefront in town with a two-bedroom place upstairs and a backyard for Leo’s garden. They could run a restaurant with Dom as head chef and Charlie as the maître d’, welcoming customers and telling his stories. They could even run a small-time betting ring during football season.
Charlie starts to think that, maybe, Dom’s isn’t such a bad idea. After all, they’ve seen everything they could see after 30 years in the city with the family, whose members aren’t exactly quality guys anyway. The Uncle Sid for example: he’s probably the head of the family now, and, Dom says, it was he who gave Big Anthony Jr. the order to find a way to put Leo down. All of a sudden, the door slams open and an old man dressed in a suit and an ill-fitting hairpiece stands before them— The Uncle Sid.
Sid is just as surprised as Dom and Charlie. He came over because the house belongs to his sister-in-law and he’s been keeping the books. He wanted to know why the gardener had stopped coming and why the utility bills were so high for what should have been an empty house. Now, he wants to know why Junior’s Cadillac is parked outside while Junior is nowhere to be found and why two “dead men” have been living in his family’s house. “We ain’t dead, Sid,” Charlie says, to which Sid replies, “We’ll see.”
Afraid of how things are going, Dom hands Charlie a knife to cut some cheese cake for Sid while hinting not-so-subtly that Charlie should use it to kill him. Charlie had always told Leo’s stories; now he has to be the hero of his own.
Sid challenges Charlie, telling him he couldn’t have killed anyone, that Leo was the real killer— the real man— and that Charlie could only “play court jester.” Before long, Charlie can’t take Sid’s condescension and drives the knife right into Sid’s chest. He pushes Sid offstage and finishes the job— perhaps a few times over at that point— and reenters bloody and brooding, basking in his own victory.
Charlie decides that he and Dom are going to move back to the city, show the guys The Uncle Sid’s body, tell them how Charlie got rid of him and Big Anthony Jr., and finally take over the Family. They’ll open their restaurant in the city and use that as a base of operations. Dom knows he can’t go back, so when Charlie asks for coffee, Dom puts a shot of poison in Charlie’s cup. Charlie feels good about the future and the power that awaits him after his triumphant return. However, he can’t get past Leo’s memory, saying, “You don’t kill your best friend… a true friend is the greatest gift of all.” Then, he starts to drink his coffee… until Dom stops him.
Dom admits he poisoned the coffee, but they both realize they couldn’t do a thing to hurt each other— they’re best friends, after all. In the end, Charlie can’t leave his friend and he agrees to stay and help him open Dominic & Charlie’s Fine Southern Italian Cuisine in the storefront Dom had talked about. Why not? They make a good team and, after their latest killing, they have enough fresh ingredients to last them a little while. They also know that, when the supplies eventually run low, they can always invite one of the boys over for a visit— and a delicious last meal.
A funny, friendly, big lug of a play.
–New York Times
Dom – The jovial cook for over 30 years of the Mob family of Big Anthony Sr.
Charlie – The back up to Leo the renowned & infamous hit man of Big Anthony Senior's crime family.
Big Anthony Jr. – Now head of the crime family started by his father. Anthony is a screaming maniac in his mid-40s.
The Uncle Sid – The book keeper of the Mob family. Slight of build in his late 70s but at heart a kindly killer.
Casting Note: Sid & Big Anthony Jr. can and should be played by the same actor.
Setting: a modest kitchen in the wilds of New Jersey about a two hour drive from the heart of Brooklyn.
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“Funny from the first dish to the last.” –Broadway Select
“A rare comedy. Gets as much laughter as immediate appreciative applause.” –Broadway Select
“A laugh riot.” –TheaterMania
“A crowd-pleasing archetype conjuring the lovable Mafiosi.” –TheatreMania
“Five Stars. A raucous comedy.” –Front Row Center
“Dinner with the Boys will please Soprano fans who are looking for a funnier version.” –Time Square Chronicles
“Funnier than you would think.” –Time Square Chronicles
“So much fun to watch.” –Entertainment Hour
"Witty jokes. I wish I had a replay button." –Entertainment Hour
“Five Stars. One hilarious meal.” –New York Theatre Guide
“Five Stars. A no holds barred comedy. Too good to miss!” –Blog Critics
“A must for any fans of Scorsese or The Sopranos.” –New York City Theatre
"This Mafia-themed comedy plays like a gangster variation on Arsenic and Old Lace with a touch of Sweeney Todd flavoring.” –Hollywood Reporter
“Humor abounds.” –The New York Times
Materials: your materials will be sent to you two months prior to your opening date and will include everything necessary for your production and can be ordered in Printed or Digital format. Printed Materials are provided on unbound three-hole punched loose-leaf paper while Digital Materials are provided via email as downloadable PDF files for you to print in-house. All materials are yours to keep! No deposits, no returns.
The production materials for Dinner With the Boys include:
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Director's Script – Single-sided script with space for director’s notes.