A Bronx Tale

‘A BRONX TALE’: The cast. Photo: Joan Marcus

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stars_4

 

 

A BRONX TALE
Book by Chazz Palminteri
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Glenn Slater
Directed by Robert DeNiro & Jerry Zaks
Choreographed by Sergio Trujillo
Longacre Theatre
220 West 48th Street
(212-239-6200), www.abronxtalethemusical.com

 

By David NouNou

I can honestly say A Bronx Tale is the first truly, thoroughly enjoyable show of the 2016 fall season and we are very close to the end of it. That should give you an idea of how exciting this fall season has been. This is not to undermine the show but to totally praise it. Who else could have written the book as well as Chazz Palminteri? After all, it is about his life and who should know it better? The music and lyrics by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater capture the mood, feel, and essence of the 1960s doo-wop and rock-and-roll sound to perfection. It distills the 1960s and transports us to the Bronx, Belmont Avenue and an Italian neighborhood where there was right from wrong and rules were still obeyed.

In 1960 young Calogero (Hudson Loverro) witnesses Sonny (Nick Cordero) kill a guy outside his building, but in a lineup, he refuses to rat Sonny out. A trust and bond develops between Calogero and Sonny; this undermines the bond Calogero has with his father, Lorenzo (Richard H. Blake). Lorenzo knows his son has talent and doesn’t want to see him waste it. Come 1968, Calogero (Bobby Conte Thornton) is grownup, almost a wastrel, and still is torn between his father’s values and Sonny’s flash. Thrown into the mix is Jane (the lovely Ariana DeBose) who is black and lives on Webster Avenue and the two inevitably fall for each other —which does not sit well with the two neighborhoods because races did not mix even if you lived in the same community. Each few blocks were an entity unto themselves.

Sure, the story seems familiar, but it is done in a fresh way, and that fresh thing is sincerity. There is a story here and it tells it from the heart with no artificial fillers. Robert DeNiro and Jerry Zaks have taken the story and directed it without any frills, just fine-tuned it to let the tale unfold in the most simplistic and realistic of ways.

The standout performance is Nick Cordero; he was a showstopper and Tony nominee in Bullets Over Broadway, the only good thing in that dreadful musical. He is sensational here as Sonny the gangster. It is a thrill to watch this man dominate and command a stage and watch his talent grow with each succeeding show. Richard H. Blake is admirable as Lorenzo. As the young Calogero, Hudson Loverro is an adorable child actor doing his job well without being cloying. Ariana DeBose—who just left Hamilton—as Jane is a joy to see and hear. Bobby Conte Thornton has a nice voice and tries to be sincere but lacks the stage presence to bring any dimension to the older Calogero; the role calls for a more seasoned actor to dominate the stage.

The show is a tribute to another time. It brings back to life a moving, stirring, delectable Americana morsel that preserves a period, time, place, sound, and people that is part of American history now.

 


Edited by Scott Harrah

Published December 8, 2016
Reviewed at press performance on December 7, 2016

 

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‘A BRONX TALE’: Nick Cordero & Richard H. Blake. Photo: Joan Marcus

A Bronx Tale

‘A BRONX TALE’: (left to right) Rory Max Kaplan, Keith White, Dominic Nolfi, Joe Barbara, Hudson Loverro, Cary Tedder. Photo: Joan Marcus

'A BRONX TALE': Bobby Conte Thornton & cast. Photo: Joan Marcus

‘A BRONX TALE’: Bobby Conte Thornton & cast. Photo: Joan Marcus

'A BRONX TALE': Arianna DeBose (center) & Gilbert L. Bailey II & Bradley Gibson, Trista Dollison & Christiani Pitts (L-R). Photo: Joan Marcus

‘A BRONX TALE’: Arianna DeBose (center) & Gilbert L. Bailey II & Bradley Gibson, Trista Dollison & Christiani Pitts (L-R). Photo: Joan Marcus

A Bronx Tale

‘A BRONX TALE’: (left to right) Hudson Loverro, Richard H. Blake, Lucia Giannetta. Photo: Joan Marcus

A Bronx Tale

‘A BRONX TALE’: (left to right) Trista Dollison, Ariana DeBose & Christiani Pitts. Photo: Joan Marcus

A Bronx Tale

‘A BRONX TALE’: Nick Cordero & Hudson Loverro. Photo: Joan Marcus

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‘A BRONX TALE’: Hudson Loverro & Richard H. Blake. Photo: Joan Marcus

 

'A BRONX TALE':

‘A BRONX TALE’: Bobby Conte Thornton & Nick Cordero. Photo: Joan Marcus

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