Monday, November 17, 2008
A Philly Tale
I saw A Bronx Tale Friday night at the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia. ABT is the revival of the original one man show that launched the movie of the same name. Although the Merriam is one of those historic theaters that was designed for men half my height (I had to move to an empty row halfway through the show just so I could uncoil my legs), I thoroughly enjoyed the performance. ABT is one of those rare times when a great piece of art translate into a new medium in a fabulous way, and I'm glad I got to see the original source material as it was first presented.
Creator Chazz Palminteri was involved in both pieces, although he is more the focus of the stage production, seeing as it's a one man show. The theater performance is more humorous, taking more of a conversational tone that is necessary when there's only one person performing. Necessary, but exquisite. I'm not a fan of one man shows one way or the other, but ABT was like a mix of a regular play and a stand-up comedy routine. Palminteri brought to life many different characters like a master storyteller, and there were only a few times when I thought it dragged a bit. Overall, though, I was captured by Palminteri.
I thought the legendary bar scene played a whole lot better on the stage. In many respects, it's like comparing a great movie to the better book it was based on. I was thoroughly entertained, and I recommend it to any fan of the film or of theater in general.