Chazz Palminteri ready to play Sonny in ‘A Bronx Tale’ on Broadway
Chazz Palminteri will be filling in for a role he created when he takes on the role of Sonny in the musical he created, "A Bronx Tale."
Palminteri's return starts on May 24 at the Longacre Theatre. He will perform on Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Wednesdays at 2 and 7 p.m., Thursdays at 7 p.m. and Fridays at 8 p.m. Chazz called my show and we talked about why he's taking the role.
"Nick Cordero, who plays Sonny on Broadway, he’s doing a film. So they were going to look to cast another Sonny, so they asked me. Tommy Mottola and (Robert) DeNiro said, 'Gee you want to go in and play Sonny for a while?' I said, 'Yeah, sure why not," Chaz told me.
Palminteri said this marks the first time an actor has done the play on Broadway, then starred in the feature film, and then return to star in the musical on Broadway. He said he is looking forward to being back on the New York stage.
"I’m really excited to be on the Broadway stage now, and I’m excited to be singing again. I’m really looking forward to playing Sonny," he said. "The show is doing great. We’ve been on Broadway now for a year and a half. I think we’re on 600 and something performances"
I always believed "A Bronx Tale" was "The Godfather" for the Baby Boomers, as many grew up in the '60s on the streets of the Bronx. It's a very celebrated movie with some of the most quotable lines, which Chazz said he gets recited back to him constantly.
"A lot of times when I get on an airplane, as soon as the stewardess shuts the door, I hear the pilot go, 'Now youze can’t leave.' He knows I’m there. I hear that a lot. I hear, 'Throw them in the bathroom.' I hear, 'It’s better to be loved than feared.' I hear. 'One of the great ones? Is your wife one of the great ones, does she past the test?' That’s just a compliment. It’s my legacy and I’m fine with that," he said.
One of the greatest scenes in the play is on young C's first date, where he opens the car door for the girl, and she then unlocks his side. "That's a keeper," according to Sonny. I asked Chazz how that scene would play out today.
"I still tell people today even though the door locks are different I always say look — the girl’s got to at least make an attempt to let you in. Even if the door is open, she has to try and click it or something. She just can’t leave you out there by yourself. The door test works, man. It worked back then and it still works," Chazz said.
My favorite scene is when Sonny is shooting craps and he keeps putting those who distract him in the bathroom. Who would Chazz like to put in the bathroom?
"There’s a lot of people I’d like to put in the bathroom, but they’ll remain nameless." Chazz, keeping to the old ways of "keep your mouth shut," said.
While on the subject of gambling, how does he feel about sports betting coming to New Jersey?
"That’s pretty exciting! I hope it doesn’t change the way people look at games, when they’re close games and they decide not to go for the extra point, or they decide certain things. You’re going to hear all kinds of conspiracy theories. I think that’s why I never went into gambling," Chazz said.
We talked about how "A Bronx Tale" came to be.
"I had 200 bucks in the bank and I turned down $1 million. Two weeks later, DeNiro saw it and said, 'You’d be great as Sonny. You should do it. You should write it. I’ll play your father, and I’ll direct it and let’s go partners' And that’s how it all happened"
With Chazz having known DeNiro for a long time and worked with him several times over his career, I asked if he'd ever given Chazz any advice.
"I think he said, 'Don’t read reviews. Never read reviews because they’ll hurt you and the good ones will hurt you worse than the bad ones. If you’re going to believe the good ones you’ll believe the bad ones, so it’s better not to read anything and I never forgot that and you know what I never did.' After Bronx Tale I never read another review about myself," Chazz said.
He should, because they're great!
More From New Jersey 101.5