Regional Reviews: San Francisco
Franc D'Ambrosio Returns to San Francisco
This son of a Bronx baker who acts and looks a little like a young Marlon Brando talks about his life growing up in a large Italian family living over a bakery. He said they were the most popular family in the neighborhood since they all smelled like baked goods. The Bronx accent is still there and, as I said to a friend, you can take the man out of the Bronx but you can't take the Bronx out of the man.
Franc D'Ambrosio's solo show is smashing. He has a voice that is as at ease in lower octaves as it is in high, amiably spun tenor notes. His powerful voice knocks you out, especially on a melody from The Phantom of the Opera. His deep, rich voice fills the small theatre with "The Music of the Night," and his commanding stage presence is almost hypnotic.
Franc is able to change his voice in selections from Fosse's Broadway shows, like "If You Could See Me Now" and "Steam Heat." He sings "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody" just like it was sung in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1919. His voice is heart rending in "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables and his arrangement of "Be Italian" made Italian half happy. There is a little of Cagney in his voice when he sings "Yankee Doodle Boy/Give My Regards to Broadway" from George M!.
D'Ambrosio said he was raised listening to the radio when such great artists as Rosemary Clooney performed, and he sings a Radio Hour medley that includes a typical Italian male singing "Botch-A-Me" that brought back memories. The artist was first recognized when he played Al Pacino's operatic son in Godfather III. He beautifully sings the melodic theme song from the film, getting every juicy tone out of these songs. He is able to intertwine fragile nuances throughout the two hour program. His rendition of "Not While I'm Around," from his first Broadway role as Tobias in the revival of Sweeney Todd, is delicate. His encore was a thrilling rendition of "This Is the Moment" from Jekyll and Hyde.
Musical Director Chuck Larkin gives a polished performance on the piano. He is perfect accompaniment for the voice of D'Ambrosio and comes into his own with a solo performance of "Embraceable You."
Franc D'Ambrosio will be playing at the New Conservatory Theatre Center, 30 Van Ness at Market, San Francisco through April 23rd. For tickets please call NCTC's box office at 415-861-8972 or online at www.nctcsf.org. He moves on to perform the show April 26 at the Carnegie Music Hall in Pittsburgh, PA, and at Joe's Pub in Manhattan on April 30.