Final run set for Jersey producer’s original italianbased musical

Sep 01, 2019 467

BY: Lenny Gatto

The original musical all about Sicilians, Neapolitans and Jewish Businessmen called, “They Call it Gravy; WE Call it SAUCE!” will be performed for a final three-day run in New Jersey October 11-13 at the Brook Arts Center before it crosses the Hudson.

This Perry Award-nominee (Outstanding Original Musical) has enjoyed sold-out performances at the Strand Center for the Arts in Lakewood, Middletown Arts Center, Middletown, UCPAC’s Hamilton Stage in Rahway and the Rosen Performing Arts Center in Wayne. New Jersey-born and raised native, Lenny Gatto, is the playwright, composer, executive producer and director.

The show tells the story of Rosa Garraffa, a second-generation Sicilian girl living in New York’s Little Italy with her parents. Her father, Dante, is a proud Sicilian man who’s firmly entrenched in the only “old world” customs he knows, and when his unmarried daughter tells him that she’s expecting, he disowns and banishes her. Twentysomething years later, Rosa’s Jewish-raised daughter, Barbara, unaware of her Sicilian heritage, uncovers the family secret and digs-in to discover her roots along with her Brooklyn-born, Neapolitan-lawyer Fiancé, Matt Volpe.

Gatto made history by being the only person who grew up in Lakewood, New Jersey, to write, produce and direct an original musical and then had it performed at the iconic Strand Center for the Arts. Raised in a New Jersey Sicilian-Neapolitan-Pugliese home, Gatto is the real deal. His musical features authentic Sicilian and Neapolitan words and phrases. His wealth of first-hand experience comes from his more-than 20 years of living in Sicily and Italy; first by serving on active duty in the U. S. Navy, and then as the U. S. Embassy Liaison Officer in Northern Italy.

This afforded him the opportunity to not only to observe, but be a part of the distinctions between Sicilian, Neapolitan and northern Italian cultures, and watching how they can interact with each other. The show pokes fun at these differences and uses pronunciation as a test of true Italian-ness. The script is based on actual events and real people.

Gatto notes that the Jewish community has been well-represented in the theatre with shows such as Yenta, Fiddler on the Roof , The Producers and recently, The Band’s Visit. The Hispanic/Latino communities have been well-represented in the theatre with shows including West Side Story, In the Heights and Anna In the Tropics.

What about the Italian community’s representation on or off Broadway? “It’s our turn”, he added. “It’s time for the world to see a non-violent, non-organized crime show about a simple Italian family. “Italians love to break-out and dust-off their red, white and green Italian flags, or their red and yellow Sicilian flags each year on Columbus Day”, he said. “What about showing that pride the rest of the month or year? We can start this year with the performances of “Gravy-Sauce” that will take place over the Columbus Day Weekend, just in time for all Italians to embrace their heritage”, he added.

Tickets can be obtained online at: or at the door. The information number is 609-303-2013.

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