Chazz Palminteri's "A Bronx Tale" comes to musical life on Broadway. Roma Torre filed the following review.
When Chazz Palminteri first performed his auto-biographical one-man show "A Bronx Tale", it was an engagingly touching portrait of a young man's coming of age in his Bronx Italian neighborhood. What started as a deeply personal performance comes to Broadway in a big-budget musical featuring an A-list creative team. And while there's much to enjoy, something feels lost in translation.
It opens with a rousing number - Belmont Avenue - where Palminteri grew up. We are introduced to his alter-ego Calogero nicknamed "C" by the neighborhood mobster Sonny who takes the boy under his wing. And that sets up a conflict forcing C to choose between the seductive influence of Sonny's money and power and the noble values imparted by C's hard-working bus driver dad, Lorenzo. A second conflict emerges when C falls for a black girl on a neighboring block.
De Niro's seasoned hand is all over the performances. Best of all: Richard H. Blake's Lorenzo and especially Nick Cordero's Sonny, possessing an irresistible mix of menace, street smarts and charisma!
Palminteri penned the libretto. Robert De Niro co-directed alongside veteran Jerry Zaks. Alan Menken composed the music with lyricist Glenn Slater and choreography is by Sergio Trujillo - a lot of world class cooks adding their best ingredients to the gravy. Menken’s tunes – a terrific pastiche of ‘60’s sounds – is memorable; Trujillo’s dances light up the stage and it’s peppered with plenty of warmth and humor. But you know what they say about too many cooks, and somehow the heart of the story ends up overpowered.
The show will remind you of Jersey Boys and West Side Story and that may be more than enough for a rewarding night at the theatre. But what separates “A Bronx Tale” from those classics is a lot more than a city mile.