‘Bronx Babe’ returns with highly anticipated one-woman show

Actress Janet “Sonny” Marie Lee is currently performing her one-woman show, the sequal of “The Bronx Babe” at the Actors Temple Theatre in midtown.
Photo Steven Goodstein

The Bronx Babe is back on the big stage!

Janet “Sonny” Marie Lee, better known as “The Bronx Babe” has returned to the stage with a dazzling one-woman play, after a seven year hiatus from acting.

For the last three Saturdays, the Bronx Babe has put on an off-Broadway, one-woman performance, also fittingly titled, “The Bronx Babe,” which relives her adolescent experiences growing up in the Bronx in the 1970s, after her family moved there from Harlem when she was a child. The play is a sequel of her original “Bronx Babe” show, which focused on her childhood years, before junior high school. Though technically a one-woman show, Sonny Marie Lee was accompanied by actress, singer, songwriter and dancer Bree Mendez for various scenes.

Born to an Irish father and a Puerto Rican mother, Sonny was often asked about her race and ethnic background by other students when she was in grade school.

In one particular instance, on Sonny’s first day of junior high school, she was asked by three Puerto Rican girls if she was white. Sonny looked down at the skin color of her arm and replied, “It sure looks like I am, doesn’t it?”

The three girls were ready to jump her based on her race, before Sonny replied, “My mother was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and my father is Irish, so you better find a way to kick half of my behind!”

The Puerto Rican girls laughed, embracing her from that point on and also giving her the nickname “Blanca” or “white girl.”

Other junior high experiences included Sonny’s first kiss, playing hooky with friends and even witnessing street gangs such as the Irish Henchmen and the Puerto Rican-based groups the Black Spades and the Savage Skulls.

The Bronx Babe show also included snippets of Sonny singing over classic hits from that era, including the Jackson Five’s “ABC,” Steely Dan’s “Do It Again” and “Ooh Child” by Five Stairsteps.

Amidst the many happy memories Sonny experienced in her middle and high school years, there were also painful moments — which included losing her father in 1973, when she was only 14 years old. She dedicated the original “Bronx Babe” show to her late father — and had his picture hanging up on stage with her.

She also had to deal with pain and loss again in 2008, when her mom passed away. In 2012, she lost two of her siblings within a three-month span. Despite these times of dispair, Sonny has persevered — in both her life as well as her career. She even came back from a devastating and potentially career ending injury, when she split her knee open and suffered a compound fracture to her patella in early 2016. Her injury required 37 staples and knee surgery.

With decades of acting experience, Sonny began acting and modeling in her early 20’s, appearing in films, commercials, soap operas and magazines, along with performing live shows. Throughout the 1980s, she lived in numerous countries including Germany, Italy, Switzerland, China and France.

She even released a children’s book in 2015, titled, “The Magical Sewing Machine.”

Her third and final performance will take place on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Actors Temple Theatre, located at 339 W. 47th St. Audience members are encouraged to arrive 10 minutes early.

To book tickets, or for more information about Sonny Marie Lee, visit thebronxbabe.godaddysites.com. Also, follow The Bronx Babe on Instagram @thebronxbabe.

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