Lakewood Man Makes History at Lakewood’s Strand Center for the Arts

Posted on January 27, 2016 By

The Strand Theater for the Arts opened its doors in 1922 and has stood the test of time for decades from vaudeville acts, silent films and pre-performance Broadway shows to full-length movies and now, back to full-productions stage shows.

History will once again be made at the iconic theater because for the first time, a Lakewood resident is presenting an original musical he has written.

Lenny Gatto, owner and executive producer of Music Jar Productions, grew up in Lakewood, attended St. Mary Academy and graduated from Lakewood High School. His father owned and operated John’s Barber Shop for 40 years one block away from the Strand, and his mother worked in the office at St. Mary of the Lake Church.

Lenny will present his original musical, “They Call It Gravy; WE Call It Sauce,” at the Strand on January 30, 2016, a sold-out show, for a one-night Backstage Pass mini-performance. The audience will be seated on stage with the 15-member cast, and the original music will be performed live. Two cast members, Skip Pulcrano and Jimmy Givens, are also life-long Lakewoodians.

“They Call It Gravy; WE Call It Sauce” tells the story of a traditional Sicilian father who disowns his daughter for getting pregnant out of wedlock. Twenty years later, his granddaughter joins with a detective and her fiancé to locate and meet her grandparents. She hatches a plot to reunite the family; however, another wrinkle exists. Her fiancé is Neapolitan! The traditions of Sicilians and Neapolitans undoubtedly clash.

The musical explores the subject of the on-going “Gravy versus Sauce” conundrum along with missing vowels in certain Italian words, and the cringe that is felt by most Italians when they hear the word “Bruschetta.”

The show follows a family as it struggles to stay together and keep its heritage alive amid laughs and tears, forgiveness and family cohesion . . .all in the city they love.

For more information, contact Gatto, who currently resides in Monroe Township, at Music Jar Productions, 609-709-7180, or at