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"A Bronx Tale", a Musical, at the Longacre Theatre
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"A Bronx Tale", a Musical, at the Longacre Theatre

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A Bronx Tale
(A Bronx Tale Website)
Based on the play by Chazz Palminteri

Book by Chazz Palminteri
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Glenn Slater

Directed by Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks
Choreography by Sergio Trujillo
Music Supervision and Arrangements by Ron Melrose

With Nick Cordero, Richard H. Blake, Bobby Conte Thornton
Ariana Debose, Lucia Giannetta, Bradley Gibson, Hudson Loverro

And an ensemble of actors/singers/dancers

Longacre Theatre
220 West 48th Street

Scenic Design: Beowulf Boritt
Costume Design: William Ivey Long
Lighting Design: Howell Binkley
Sound Design: Gareth Owen
Hair & Wig Design: Paul Huntley
Makeup Design: Anne Ford-Coates
Fight Coordinator: Robert Westley
Technical Supervision: Hudson Theatrical Associates
Orchestrations: Doug Besterman
Music Direction: Jonathan Smith
Period music Consultant: Johnny Gale
Music Coordinator: John Miller
Company Manager: Miguel A. Ortiz
Casting: Tara Rubin Casting/Merri Sugarman, CSA
Production Stage Manager: Beverly Jenkins
Press Representative: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Advertising and Marketing: AKA
Promotions: Red Rising Marketing
Associate Producer: Lauren Mitchell
Exec. Producer: Sally Campbell Morse
General Management: Dodger Management Group

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 7, 2016

Nick Cordero has certainly refined his gangster persona, since appearing in Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway a few years ago. He’s smooth, silky, understated, with a heart of steel. That is, until he meets a child on a Bronx street, who pretends to the cops that none of the thugs in the lineup, including Sonny (Mr. Cordero), shot a man in the street, just moments earlier. From that moment on, Calogero (Hudson Loverro), is like a son to Sonny, and he nicknames the kid “C”. Chaz Palminteri based his book of this show on his original play. He was also a star in the film version with Robert De Niro, who co-directs this show with Jerry Zaks. There’s an abundance of naturalism, poignancy, romantic conflict, and moral ambiguity, mixed with fast-talking urban wit and vivacious energy. Alan Menken’s music is more midnight-New York-imbued, saxophone and flugelhorn, than his usual Broadway scores (like Newsies). In fact, some of the tunes were evocative of his score for Sister Act. Glenn Slater’s lyrics were especially enthralling in “Nicky Machiavelli”, sung by the 1960’s characters Sonny, Rudy the Voice (Joey Sorge), Eddie Mush (Jonathan Brody), Frankie Coffeecake (Ted Brunetti), JoJo the Whale (Michael Barra), and Tony-Ten-To-Two (Paul Salvatoriello). The secondary characters also included four Doo-Wop Guys, Rory Max Kaplan, Dominic Nolfi, Cary Tedder, and Keith White, to whom I could listen often, with their sultry harmonies so carefully crafted.

Little Hudson Loverro’s Calogero grows up to be a teen, as the show slides from 1960 to 1968, and Bobby Conte Thornton takes on the role. Both actors were sublime the night I attended, and I and my guest thoroughly enjoyed Sonny and his cohorts, including the young and teenage Calogero, in the comically infused scenes. Darker scenes develop, as the grown Calogero is infatuated with a high school sweetheart from the black community a few blocks away from his Italian roots. It’s the 60’s, and the going gets rough. Jane (Arianna Debose) is the object of C’s affection, but her stage time is limited. Ms. Debose’s solo, “Out of Your Head”, was performed with fervor and resonant vocals, an artist to watch. Sonny’s solo, “One of the Great Ones”, included his advice to “C”, to not miss one of the few women who’ll come along in his life, to seize the moment, when it’s ripe. Mr. Cordero and Mr. Thornton both have superb vocal talent to spare, with charisma and attitude. Calogero’s father, Lorenzo (Richard H. Blake), is attentive, patient, and always concerned for his son’s safety around Sonny. Yet, there’s a symbiotic relationship between father (Lorenzo) and friend (Sonny) that’s intrinsic to 1960’s New York. Mr. Blake was mesmerizing, absorbing his character’s conflict. Calogero’s mother, Rosina (Lucia Giannetta), in a secondary role, was nurturing and perfectly cast. Tyrone (Bradley Gibson), Jane’s brother, may have been named for Tybalt, in this “Romeo and Juliet”-“West Side Story” inspired, dramatic subplot.

Mr. De Niro and Jerry Zaks have directed for true Bronx accents, with quintessentially punctuated syllables and words. They keep the action moving seamlessly, and you almost don’t notice that the child and teen Calogeros barely look alike, in physique or expression, although both are superbly cast and tremendously riveting. Beowulf Boritt’s scenery slides across the stage in a New York minute, including a 60’s full-size car, brick apartments with multiple fire escapes and ladders, Calogero’s home kitchen, the streets in the Italian and black neighborhoods, and a funeral parlor later on. William Ivey Long’s costumes keep the thugs slick and snazzy and the Doo-Wop Guys charming. When Jane and friends break out in dance, nice loose skirts are just what Sergio Trujillo’s choreography called for. Mr. Trujillo is a master of retro, urban dance genres. Howell Binkley’s lighting shifts from night to day with ease, and Gareth Owen’s sound keeps the dialogue and lyrics crisply audible. Jonathan Smith, Conductor and Music Director, and John Miller, Music Coordinator, deserve kudos for infectious rhythms and tones, while Mr. Menken has molded his score to this eclectic “tale”. Kudos to all.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at