Soprano star John Ventimiglia, a Croatian immigrant living in New York
The following review concerns the play Ponies playing in New York comes from The New York Times. One of the lead character in the play, played by Soprano star John Ventimiglia, is a Croatian immigrant living in New York
October 26, 2004
THEATER REVIEW | 'PONIES'
Wiseguys, Huh? Well, Try to Get the Horse Right Here
By JASON ZINOMAN
he Broadway revival of " 'Night, Mother," now in previews and starring Edie Falco, of "The Sopranos," isn't the only mobbed-up show in town. The Soprano family has its fingerprints all over Mike Batistick's punchy New York story, "Ponies." Michael Imperioli, who plays Tony Soprano's brutal right-hand man, Christopher Moltisanti (and steps in for Otto Sanchez in "Ponies" beginning tomorrow), produced the play with his wife, Victoria, and it includes enough "Sopranos" actors to satisfy fans suffering through withdrawal while the series is on hiatus.
Set inside a bleak OTB outlet (is there any other kind?) on the Lower East Side, the drama at Studio Dante is about the precariousness of immigrant life in New York after 9/11.
Keep an eye on John Ventimiglia, better known to "Sopranos" fans as Artie Bucco. As a Croatian put-down artist named Drazen, Mr. Ventimiglia, delivers a hammy, charismatic performance of Pacinoesque proportions. While his crass character may seem dim - he chooses horses based on their names and loses with Date More Minors - he is the kind of shameless liar who knows that playing dirty can be just as effective as working hard.
Drazen brings his nervous Nigerian friend, Ken (Babs Olusanmokun), to the OTB to take his mind off losing his livery cab. The threat of deportment looms over the lives of these jittery characters, and their nervous energy sets an uneasy comic mood, in sharp contrast to the deadpan calm of the cashier (Tonye Patano, yet another "Sopranos" veteran).
Mr. Batistick has a good ear for dialogue, and his foulmouthed, cruel banter has the ring of truth. The same cannot always be said of his plot, which at times is guilty of telegraphing its twists.
But the polished production makes up for the script's flaws. Victoria Imperioli, who designed the sets and costumes, captures the look of an OTB with impressive naturalistic detail, and Nick Sandow's staging maintains the excitement of an episode of "The Sopranos" - without anyone getting whacked.
"Ponies" runs through Nov. 20 at Studio Dante, 257 West 29th Street.