In the advertisements for A Bronx Tale, The Musical, the ad copy calls it a crossover between West Side Story and Jersey Boys, which is vaguely accurate. It’s an account of an Italian-American boy named Calogero in New York City’s northernmost borough circa 1960 when he encounters a local Mafia boss. He’s conflicted, “torn between the temptations of organized crime and the values of his honest, hardworking father.”
The production has a long history. Initially, it was a play written by actor Chazz Palminteri, which was turned into a 1993 movie starring Palminteri as the mobster Sonny and Robert DeNiro, in his directing debut, as Calogero’s father Lorenzo. While not a huge commercial hit, the film was critically acclaimed.
By 2007, Palminteri was a big enough star to perform a one-man show from October 2007 to February 2008, followed by a tour from September 2008 to April 2010
Finally, A Bronx Tale became a Broadway musical, with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater. It ran from December 2016 to August 2018, followed by a tour, beginning in October 2018, first in Rochester, NY.
My family saw it in Schenectady at Proctors Theatre On October 27 to a packed house. The show was quite good. Frankie Leoni was marvelous as the nine-year-old Calogero, with Joey Barreiro fine as the 17-year old C. Richard H. Blake was solid as Lorenzo, and Brianna-Marie Bell as Jane has a marvelous singing voice.
There was a cadre of assorted hoodlums with very distinctive nicknames such as Tony-Ten-To-Two because he stood with his feet that way; or JoJo the Whale, played by Michael Barra, who made his Broadway debut in the role and moved very well for a big man.
Still, the show belongs to Joe Barbara as Sonny the mobster, a Broadway understudy for the role. He doesn’t have the greatest voice, but it is perfect for my favorite song from the show, Nicky Machiavelli, which talks about being loved versus being feared.
There are another 11 months of The Bronx Tale on the tour, so if the show is coming to a city near you, I recommend checking it out.