Acting Out

It's playtime in the Italian Market.

By Mike Newall
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Aug. 2, 2006

Share this Story:

Illustration by Paul Hoppe

Frank Joseph Tartaglia is always thinking up big ideas.

Late at night, while sitting at the gray felt card table in the performing arts space he's opening in the Italian Market with his older brother Joseph Frank, he'll lean back in his chair, take a drag from a cigarette, squint his eyes, turn his thoughts over, exhale and say something like, "How about chopsticks that are hollow on the inside and filled with sauce, and you just have to press a button and the sauce will come out?"

Without looking up, older brother Joe will shuffle the cards and say, "You're a jerkoff, Frank."

And just like that, most of Frank's ideas drift into the night with the smoke and the next hand of cards.

About a month ago Frank leaned back in his chair and took a long, hard stare at the performance stage Joe had built a few weeks before.

"GoodFellas," he said finally. "The musical."

Joe, who has a tattoo of Robert De Niro on his forearm, looked up from the cards, took a deep breath, and sang in his best falsetto, "Go and get your fucking shinebox."

It didn't seem right.

Joe went back to the cards.

Frank kept thinking.

"GoodFellas," he said after a moment. "The play."

"Yeah," said Joe. "Yes."

And that's how Philadelphia's--and maybe America's--first-ever theater production of GoodFellas, the 1990 mob classic directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci, was born.

Joe and Frank are natural performers. It's in their blood.

To realize this you need only spend a few hours at the fruit stand their father Joseph Tartaglia Jr. operates on the corner of Ninth and Ellsworth. It's like watching an Italian Redd Foxx peddle tomatoes. Instead of calling his sons "dummies," he calls them jerkoffs.

Eight years ago Frank, 29, and Joe, 37, made a movie called Punctuality. Kind of like Clerks meets A Bronx Tale. Joe wrote it. Frankie starred.

It was supposed to be a 12-minute short. But then cousin Ronnie called. Cousin Ronnie owns an escort service in Vegas.

"I wanna be in your movie," he told Joe.

Page: 1 2 |Next
Add to favoritesAdd to Favorites PrintPrint Send to friendSend to Friend



(HTML and URLs prohibited)