Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009 | 2 a.m.
If You Go
- What: “A Bronx Tale”
- When: 8 p.m. Oct. 7-12, 15-18, 22-24
- Where: Venetian Showroom
- Tickets: $38.25 to $138.25; 414-9000
- Running time: About 80 minutes; no intermission
- Audience advisory: Adult language
- Chazz Palminteri's 'A Bronx Tale' a tale of toughness (9-30-2009)
- 'A Bronx Tale' may squeeze in Vegas stop (2-28-2008)
- Drama unfolds between Vegas, Broadway (10-4-2007)
- 'Bronx Tale' depicts struggle between working man, Mafia (10-4-2007)
Was it because Palminteri is Italian, and his semi-autobiographical solo show fits the casino’s Italianate theme? Because Wayne Brady canceled all his October dates in the showroom?
Because Palminteri felt like ending his yearlong national tour with a comfy work-play stint in Las Vegas?
Whatever the reason, this richly comic and compelling “Bronx Tale” fits in here like a bespoke Armani suit or a pair of Gucci loafers. With its doo-wop heart and street-wise soul, it’s a close cousin to “Jersey Boys” at the adjacent Palazzo.
Snazzy in a sharp charcoal suit, shooting his cuffs underneath a streetlamp at the Bronx, Palminteri situates us in 1960, where his wide-eyed 9-year-old self, Calogero Palminteri, watches over his world from a concrete stoop at the corner of 187th Street and Belmont Avenue.
After witnessing a shooting, and choosing not to rat out the culprit in a police lineup, Calogero finds himself at the wavering center of a moral Cold War between father figures. Sonny, the up-and-coming neighborhood crime boss, takes the green kid under his wing, and Lorenzo, Calogero’s upright father, a bus driver, tries to steer his son away from Sonny’s tough-guy glamour.
“A Bronx Tale” is expressly concerned with masculine emotion and sentiment. Is it better, Palminteri wonders, to be loved, or feared? (A subtheme about the tragedy of wasted talent is underdeveloped and somewhat rushed.)
Although Palminteri is the sole performer, calling this a one-man show doesn’t do it justice — the stage seems crowded with a neighborhood full of vivid characters.
Working with veteran director Jerry Zaks, Palminteri emerges as a sort of Italian Twain or Dickens, constellating a neighborhood full of quirky characters — he’s especially affectionate when detailing the wiseguys — Jojo the Whale, Frankie Coffeecake, Crazy Mario — who shoot craps at Chez Joey, the bar next-door to the stoop.
Predating “The Sopranos” by a decade, “A Bronx Tale” was first presented on stage in 1989; in 1993 it was made into a movie with Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci.
Twenty years on, Palminteri is fit and energetic, his charisma undimmed, sounding out every consonant in the Bronx patois, enacting the street scenes and bar brawls as if he’s recalling it all right here, right now.
Let’s hope “A Bronx Tale” comes up a winner for its hosts at the Venetian. And that neighboring venues take the hint and bring in short runs of quality stage shows.
However Palminteri ended up here, it’s heartening to see this caliber of acting — and genuine theater — on the Strip.
Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!
In the spirit of Venice, The Venetian is a little piece of romantic Italy right here in Las Vegas. The Venetian is an "all-suite" hotel, with rooms accented with plush linens and Italian marble. The 4,027 suites are divided into two towers: The 36-story Venetian Tower that offers guests a taste of luxurious Las Vegas and the Venezia suites, which guarantee 12 floors of high-end elegance. The top five floors are the hotel's highest level of luxury with its private access, concierge lounge, upgraded features and even a dedicated staff.
The flagship of Venetian nightlife is TAO, an ultra-hip nightclub located inside of TAO Asian Bistro. V Bar is The Venetian's super smooth ultra lounge, made by the owners of New York City's club Lotus and Los Angeles' super swank Sunset Room.
The Venetian features 19 restaurants including Thomas Keller's award-winning French restaurant Bouchon, Mario Batali's B&B Ristorante, Aquaknox for fresh seafood and the 42,000 square foot TAO Asian Bistro. There's also the food court inside the Canal Shoppes for those looking for a quick bite.
Guests can float along The Grand Canal Shops in an authentic Italian gondola ride and pass stores like Burberry and Kenneth Cole along the way. And if you haven't caught a real celeb, on the street in Vegas, you can head over to Madame Tussauds to check out a wax version.