One of Westchester’s best-kept secrets is that its proximity to New York means it’s not uncommon to see Broadway performers showcasing their talents at local venues. To those who live nearby this means avoiding the hassle of getting into the city, pushing through crowds and spending money on parking, food and expensive performances. The Westchester Broadway Theatre hosts Broadway and off-Broadway performers on a regular basis at affordable prices and the fact that it’s also a dinner theater seals the deal: you’ve got everything you need in one place. This past weekend I got to see the world premiere of Mambo Italiano the Musical, right before it might go to Broadway. Catch the World Premiere of Mambo Italiano the Musical at Westchester Broadway Theatre, Mambo Italiano the Musical at Westchester Broadway Theatre, the World Premiere of Mambo Italiano the Musical at Westchester Broadway Theatre
Mambo Italiano is a musical which is based on a movie which is based on a play. Try saying that three times. Basically, what this means is that it’s a compelling story and people across the board can relate to its theme: what happens when an older generation has to learn to accept a younger generation. This theme can be applied to almost every family’s personal history; it’s a part of life; and it’s incredibly funny to watch it happen to a warm Italian family, with all its quirks and shenanigans.
The story revolves around the Barbieri family which consists of aging grandparents and their two grandchildren, who all work in the family’s Italian restaurant. Similarly to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, one of the grandchildren wants to quit the family business. The other follows and the grandparents eventually find out something about their grandchild that turns their world upside-down.
Mambo Italiano is a hysterical broad comedy, with some slapstick humor and ethnic jokes – book written by Jean Cheever and Tom Polum (Polum also directed). I would recommend it for kids ages 14 and older as there are some pretty raunchy lyrics by Omri Schein (“he put his prosciutto in Rita the Puto”). Music by James Olmstead is perfect for the show – upbeat in the first act and more melodramatic in the second act when the show takes a more dramatic turn and the songs are more heartfelt and emotional.
The cast of fourteen, spearheaded by Broadway veterans Bill Nolte and Joy Hermalyn as Gino and Maria, the grandparents, was superb, as was the live band. Nolte was the perfect “ethnic grandfather” and his operatic voice was an absolute pleasure to listen to. I wish he had more solos. Hermalyn brought the house down with her powerhouse voice, especially when she sang “Family” in the second act.
The first act had Diana DiMarzio as Lina who stole the show with her incredible vocal skills and theatrics in “Mama’s Cannelloni”. The second act was just as funny but much more sentimental with some unforgettable moments, such as “Family”, mentioned above, Gino telling his grandchildren about their mother and of course the finale song – Mambo Italiano, which had the cast dancing around in the aisles and was a huge crowd-pleaser. No doubt, it would have made Rosemary Clooney proud.
I love the concept of dinner theater: you come in, eat, watch a show. One and done. Boom. No need to look for a place to eat, make sure you get the food on time not to miss the show, etc. I can’t tell you how many times I was in the theater district and had to ask our server to rush our food because we were running late to a show, scarf down a pizza right outside the theater and, in one case, go on an empty stomach. Dinner theater solves so many problems and at an affordable price.
The menu is prix-fixe and changes according to the show. For Mambo Italiano there was an emphasis on Italian food, of course. We started out with a fresh Caesar salad (plus delicious roll and cornbread) and then chose from a variety of entrees. There’s always at least one vegetarian dish (my husband had the Eggplant Parm; I had a filet of sole in lemon butter sauce – both were good) and there’s a dessert (peach melba, which was heavenly, especially the vanilla ice cream). For an extra fee you can opt for an appetizer, an extra dessert or a drink. Coffee and tea are always included. The servers were very courteous, quick and efficient and everyone was done with their meal before the show started so there was no unnecessary movement or noise. I loved the stadium seating – you get a great view from anywhere!
Dinner and a show are $61-91, plus tax, per person which is a really good deal as the show alone is likely worth as much, considering the quality of the performance. I personally loved the comfort and convenience of having everything at one place and not running around and it was just a really fun and stress-free experience.
Mambo Italiano is playing through September 29th. Click here to learn more and to purchase tickets.
Photos of performers courtesy of John Vecchiolla
I was not compensated for this post. I received complimentary tickets
Senior Reviewer Maytal Wichman is a freelance writer and has written for several blogs, including The Huffington Post. She has been living in the New York City area for eighteen years and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature as well as a Law Degree, but blogging is her true passion. Maytal is a stay-at-home mom to three kids (ages 12, 10 and 6) and loves finding great products for her family.