Interview With Mark Nassar from Johnny Boy’s Graduation

Question: Where did you come up with this idea for the show?
MN: As you know, Johnny Boy’s Graduation is a direct descendant of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, which I was one of the creators of. Another co-creator, Kevin Alexander, and I, had talked about doing an interactive comedy about gangsters where we could include singers, entertainer, etc. Audiences love the gangster theme and we wanted to do something fun with it. He said, “How about we do a party for a guy getting out of jail?” Bingo. That was the beginning.
Question: What is the premise of the show?
MN: The title character, Johnny Boy is getting out of jail after 6 years and The Boss throws a party celebrating the mobster’s release from prison. He was put away for stealing a large cache of diamonds and where those diamonds are at, only Johnny Boy knows and that creates some problems with the various factions at the surprise party. There are actually all kinds of surprises that happen through the night. A Frank Sinatra type character shows up. Family secrets are revealed and eventually the guns come out.

Question: What is the persons first reaction when they walk into JBG?

MN: I think people are taken with how real it’s played. Patrons are greeted as old pals by cast members, and the mingling continues through dinner, dancing, and dessert. During that time the actors stay in character and play it for real. It’s not like a “Da Bears” kind of skit, which some folks might expect. The laughs come from the reality. When the audience feels like they’re actually at the event they get giddy and it goes to another level. I think it’s what separates us from other interactive shows and theater in general.

Question: Where is Johnny Boys Located?

MN: We have the most authentic setting next to the classic steel of The Loop at an old school, very gangster looking venue — Boni Vino’s Ristorante, which is across from the Board of Trade near Van Buren and Clark. The best part of it — it’s a half a block from an actual federal prison — Metropolitan Correctional Center. Every show, on our big screen, we see Johnny Boy getting out of jail and walking to the venue. He thinks he just meeting the boss, but then there’s a big surprise. It’s beyond real and beyond fun. I found the venue after visiting a real gangster, Jerry Scalise, who I was interviewing in regard to a screenplay for Michael Mann. After it was offer I went for lunch and found the great Boni Vino’s.

Question: That brings me to my Most important question — whats for dinner?

MN: Unlike Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, at JBG we serve a five course Italian Feast and it is zesty food all the way. Boni Vino’s does not mess around. Fried Calamari is served top of the show during cocktails. There’s a huge salad, Homemade Rigatoni Marinara, Chicken Vesuvio, Sausage and Peppers with Puff Balls and Brownies for desert. It’s served family style so there’s no waiting on a buffet line. At our crazy reasonable price, the food alone is worth it, but don’t forget we add 22 actors to the equation. I would put our entertainment dollar for dollar against anything out there. Anything.


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