If you liked A Bronx Tale the movie, then you’ll love the play, promises Chazz Palminteri, who will be performing the one-man show at 8 p.m. Thursday at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek.
A number of people may not realize that the 1993 movie directed by Robert De Niro was based on Palminteri’s 1990 play that became a hit in Los Angeles and later moved to Off-Broadway.
The plot follows a young man growing up in NYC in the 1960s who is torn between two male figures in his life — his hard-working father (played by De Niro in the flick) and local mob boss Sonny (Palminteri).
Though he has had a successful film career with more than 50 movies (The Usual Suspects, Analyze This, Mulholland Falls), Palminteri has a soft spot for ABT, which he performs about twice a month around the country.
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“It’s very visceral to get up there and do all the characters,” says the 62-year-old who lives in the Westchester, New York, area. “It’s my life, and I give it my all. When it’s over I’m flying, then I crash.”
To prepare for the production — no understudy! — he makes sure he is physically fit.
“It’s a hard show, gut wrenching, so I take care of myself. I stretch, I do yoga, get massages,” he says, adding that the show takes an emotional toll. “Every time I do it I go back to that space. I visit everyone again. My neighbors, my friends, my dad who passed away a few years ago at age 90.”
Mom’s still alive and proud of the story and of all her son’s success, which includes a best supporting Oscar nod for Bullets Over Broadway.
“Oh, God, you kidding me? My mom loves it. Both of them did. I am very happy about that.”
And when Palminteri goes back to the old neighborhood, he’s treated “like the pope. It’s crazy.”
Even if you grew up in Kendall or the Keys, you’ll be able to appreciate this urban yarn.
“I wrote archetypal characters,” he explains. “There’s the classic mother and father. There’s good and evil. The boy took the best of the people in his life and became a man.”
But A Bronx Tale is educational, too.
“If you want to know what New York was like back then, this gives you an idea. It’s a different kind of place, where people can be animals. It’s a vibrant and wonderful city, but it’s like the old saying goes, ‘If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.’”
Speaking of making it, Palminteri’s career maintains a steady pace. He’s got that ability to deftly move from comedic (Modern Family) to menacing (anyone recall Jade?) roles.
“I like the unexpected,” he says. “Then I’ll do A Bronx Tale in between TV and movie projects. I can pick the place where I want to do it, and it’s great.”
Next up: a movie in which he plays a mobster with Tom Hardy called Legend, out in October.
“I’m the only one who doesn’t have an English accent,” he says, laughing.
The married father of two admits there is one unfulfilled dream: to work with one of the top directors of this generation.
“Can you believe I’ve never done a movie with Marty Scorcese? You would think I would have. And I have no idea why.”
Regardless, he’s made it. Advice for anyone wanting success in showbiz?
“The most important thing is to work hard and live your life the right way. If not, it doesn’t matter how much talent you got. You’ll screw up sooner or later.”
Tickets: 954-977-6700; seminolecasinococonutcreek.com.