Dan Lauria, “The Coach” Talks Sports, Latest Play

Sports fans, “The Coach” is back, actually times two. On Friday it was announced that Dan Lauria, who sports fans loved as “Lombardi” on Broadway with Judith Light (and also enjoyed most recently in Broadway in another guys favorite “A Christmas Story,”) will be bringing an original comedy to just off Broadway (the Acorn Theater on 42 St) called “Dinner With The Boys,” described as a funny takeoff on mobster tales ala The Sopranos, which once again, should resonate with the sports crowd.

“That’s our audience, the folks who loved the give and take on ‘The Sopranos’ and all those wonderful people who came and helped us with ‘Lombardi’,” Lauria, who originally wrote the play for Dom DeLuise, and Charles Durning, said this week. “Coach Coughlin, Joe Torre, Eli Manning, David Wright, I think they will all enjoy watching this show as much as I enjoy watching them play and coach.”

The plot centers on two old-school Mafia guys holed up in a secluded house after botching an assignment. They cook and swap stories as they await their fate. “It’s really about all the violence we consume,” Lauria told AP. If Lauria isn’t enough, the play also co-stars Ray Abruzzo, who played Little Carmine on  “The Sopranos,” (and ALSO played ‘Lombardi” in the road version of the show) and Richard Zavaglia, who was in “Donnie Brasco.”  “We probably won’t have any pep talks from “The Coach” in the play, but there may be a reference or two people may pick ip on,” Lauria added.
The first reading of the show was over 10 years ago at the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles with Durning, DeLuise, Peter Falk and Jack Klugman. When DeLuise passed away in 2009, the idea was put on hold, but Lauria felt that the time was right to now give it a try, especially off the popularity of his last two Broadway roles.

More importantly for the Brooklyn native, he will be glad to be back in New York for the spring. “I’m hoping the Yankees can keep things moving along without Jeter, I really love Joe Girardi and what he does to keep the team focused, and the Mets should be fun to watch too,” he said. “Plus we got a great boost from ‘Lombardi’ right around the NFL Draft, and even though it (The Draft) is being held in Chicago this year it will be good to see how the Giants continue to improve. The Mara family and the NFL were also really good to us, so I hope they come and enjoy this show as well and I will be looking forward to seeing all those folks in and around the city this spring and summer.”

While there are no direct sports ties to the play right now, Lauria said the cast is always ad libbing and can make some adjustments on a moment’s notice. “It’s in New Jersey so don’t be surprised if we work on some Yankees or Mets reference or even drop in a hat or a jersey or two,” he added. “This play is about wise guys, but it is about things guys, and their wives love being entertained by …food and sometimes unsavory characters, and it will make you laugh, so there is a natural fit to our ‘Lombardi’ audience in a very intimate setting.”

Previews for the show begin in late April, with opening night set for May 2.  “We are hoping to be there for a long time, and are looking forward to showing how well a funny, original American play can do to bring in new audiences who will come back for more,” Lauria added.  Maybe “Lombardi” will also make a return at some point? “Maybe,” he added. “But right now our focus is on some laughs and a good meal.”

Something any sports fan would enjoy, especially after the tough 2014 fans in New York endured.

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