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Italian roots:  The working man’s heart celebrated in “A Bronx Tale”

Chazz Palminteri will bring his one-man show, "A Bronx Tale," to the Garde Arts Center in New London this Friday, Nov. 12. 

Chazz Palminteri will bring his one-man show, "A Bronx Tale," to the Garde Arts Center in New London this Friday, Nov. 12. 

Yolanda Perez

“It don't take much strength to pull a trigger but try getting up every morning day after day and work for a living, let's see him try that, then we'll see who the real tough guy is, the working man is the tough guy.”

That quote from “A Bronx Tale,” a play by actor, writer and producer Chazz Palminteri, sums up the story itself. While the Italian culture is often associated with the Mafia in entertainment projects, the truth behind it is the good people who are the everyday heroes in Italian families. 

Palminteri is bringing is one-man show to the Garde Arts Center in New London on Friday, Nov. 12. 

Based on his childhood memories of working men and gangsters in the Italian-American neighborhood where he grew up, Chazz Palminteri originally wrote the script for the stage and performed it in Los Angeles where it became the hottest property in Hollywood since ROCKY. He moved the production to New York, where the stage version played to sold-out audiences for four months and earned him Outer Critics Circle Awards for both acting and writing. 

While in New York he completed the screenplay and soon found himself playing the role of Sonny on the big screen opposite Robert De Niro. See Chazz perform the original one-man show that made him a star. Chazz has more than 50 movies to his credit including The Usual Suspects, Bullets Over Broadway (Academy Award nomination), Analyze This, Hurlyburly, Mulholland Falls, and more.

The line is said by Lorenzo Anello to his son, Calogero, who has begun working Sonny, the local wise guy. Calogero is smitten with the excitement, money and lifestyle offered by Sonny, while his father earns an honest paycheck as a bus driver.

While the movie has a star-studded cast, Palminteri performs “A Bronx Tale” as a one-man show and plays all the characters himself. He says it is “really great” to be back on stage after live theater was on hold the last year and a half.

The show continues to appeal to people because he says “it is just perfectly written.” Palminteri points out that it works as a one-man show, a movie and even a musical.

“You’re witnessing one guy playing 18 characters — this linear story on stage, by myself. The audience literally falls under mass hypnosis. One person told me they’ve seen it 88 times,” Palminteri said.

He added that every show — when he does the show at the Garde it will be his 904th time, has ended with an enthusiastic standing ovation. Palminteri pointed out that Sonny, who despite his criminal tendencies has a good heart and a real affection for Calogero and a reluctant respect for his father, is one of his favorite characters. 

Palminteri pointed out that the show takes the audience through the full gamut of emotions.

“Alfred Hitchcock once said, there are three things you can do with a story and if you do two of the three it works. You can make them laugh, you can make them cry, or you can scare them. I do all three,” he said. 

Palminteri is so committed to the show’s integrity that he pointed out he turned down millions of dollars to sell the rights to it. 

Is it challenging to play all the parts himself? Palminteri said he keeps up with the pace by exercising regularly. He works out, boxes three times a week, lifts weights, and rehearses his parts while walking on a treadmill. 

Palminteri said those who go to the show at the Garde will not be disappointed and added that he was voted best show of the year in Las Vegas – a one person show over a show like Le Cirque with many performers is quite a feat, he said. 

“When I did the show on Broadway, they told me I was one of only three shows in the history of the theater that people walked out after and immediately bought tickets to see it again,” he said. 

As far as the way Italians are represented in movies and television, he said the fact that it implies “the mafia is everything is not true.”

“The mafia is there, of course. But the real bedrock of Italian families is the working man and working woman. It’s the cops, the firemen, the people who own the local bakery, the sanitation workers,” Palminteri said. 

Those simple, yet enduring, aspects of life are also what draws the audience to “A Bronx Tale.”

“People long for and love those values,” he said. 

“These people work to raise their children to give them a better life,” Palminteri said. 

Chazz Palminteri’s one-man show, “A Bronx Tale,” will be at the Garde Arts Center on Friday, Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. For more information on tickets and health protocols, visit