AISLE SAY New York
A BRONX TALE
Written and Performed by
Directed by Jerry Zaks
Walter Kerr Theatre / 219 West 48th Street / (212) 239-6200
Reviewed by David Spencer
It's interesting seeing for the first time the one man show that put its writer-performer on the map, 18 years after it did so, because you wonder if the show, and indeed the performer, will have the same power to persuade, not only by dint of maintaining universal appeal in a new age, but the condition of the performer's own instrument.
Happily, both Chazz Palminteri and A Bronx Tale, his autobiographical reminiscence of growing up on tough streets—observing the local goombahs; being mentored by the nabe's premiere Wise Guy, Sonny; and still trying to maintain some semblance of his law-abiding father—still have the octane to grab viewers afresh.
Aside from narrating, Palminteri plays all the characters (of course), and a good deal of the evening's charm (and some of its drama too) comes from the fact that he doesn't go all Actors' Studio on you, but rather delivers the story in the manner of a stand up impressionist. So Palminteri is always present, even when immersed in another persona.
It's easy to see why A Bronx Tale was deemed bracing and touching enough to find its way to film with, of course, a full cast (Palminteri playing Sonny)—but it's also easy to imagine that it might still best resonate in the mind, and have its most natural expression as a tale told across a proscenium arch.