A BOY WHO KNEW TOO MUCH IS CHAZZ PALMINTERI'S LIKABLE ‘BRONX TALE’
HE DIDN’T RAT ON THE MAFIA - HE WROTE ABOUT IT INSTEAD ‘A BRONX TALE’ COULD BE A JUKEBOX MUSICAL BUT IT IS NOT,
IT’S ABOUT THE CHOICES WE MAKE
The turbulent ’60s, arrived at SHN Golden Gate Stage with Chazz Palminteri’s Musical version of his one man show A BRONX TALE. Palminteri teamed with Robert De Niro to bring his story to film in 1993 film. A BRONX TALE has become gold during its transformation from Palminteri’s autobiographical off-Broadway show in 1989 to the film. First time director, De Niro, encouraged the musical incarnation in 2016. It’s making a comeback now as the first national tour makes its Holiday visit to SHN Golden Gate through December 23rd.
Gangsters, gamblers and the tough streets of New York bring back a JERSEY BOY feeling and a close touch down to a Jukebox musical. THE BRONX TALE brings back the predictable coming of age NY street mob story. It’s a tale of two men, a father and a mobster, both fighting custody for a boy’s soul. The musical featuring book by actor/ writer Chazz Palminteri, music by Disney veteran Tony winner Alan Menken, and lyrics by Oscar nominee Glenn Slater, directed by Robert De Niro and Tony winner Jerry Zaks.
The show opens with the company Doo-Wop harmonizing under the a street light in “Belmont Avenue’. The song introduces the cast and the “Jersey” sound of Menken’s catchy 60’s flare. The powerhouse Joey Barreiro from the Broadway production plays Calogero who narrates the story in his life “This is A Bronx Tale, and it’s my story, the one that shattered the world that I knew.” As a 9-year-old, he witnesses a mob murder by neighborhood shot caller Sonny played the slick Joe Barbara. The kid refuses to rat out Sonny and they form a of father/son bond. It is not welcomed by Calogero’s dad, Lorenzo played by the accomplished Richard H. Blake, a hard working bus driver. Blake from the original Broadway cast sings “Look to Your Heart” and shows off his full force voice.
Sonny mentors Calogero, nicknaming him “C”, teaching him to shoot craps, and making sure the boy has money in his pocket and a big rep in the neighborhood. Barreiro sings “Roll ‘Em” with his thug buddies and also features the young “C” shining as the new boy wonder of the neighborhood bar. Then teenage “C” falls for an African-American girl, Jane played by Brianna-Marie Bell. Her friends the jazzy Ashley McManus and Brandi Porter warn her things will go wrong. The talent of this company is stellar. As Sonny, Barbara shows equal amounts of charm, swagger and flashy appeal. He sings an ideal solo “One of the Great Ones” as he deals with the changes in the street politics. We see his dark side when he shoots a guy over a parking space, but later we root for him as he mentors “C’s” urging him to attend college.
Barreiro as Calogero leaves a sentimental imprint throughout the story; he’s smart, funny, and endearing. His many solos including “In a World Like This” Barreiro shows off his keen voice to his love interest, the skilled Brianna-Marie Bell as Jane. A BRONX TALE romance is West Side Story /Romeo of Juliet arc, they deal with the racial divide between the neighborhoods of Belmont and Webster Avenues in the song “Webster Avenue”.
Sonny’s gang with classic names: Frankie Coffee Cake, Tony-Ten-To-Two, Handsome Nick, Crazy Mario and JoJo the Whale are introduced as they pose for mugshots with flashbulbs popping as they double-face front and side a Goodfellas subtext. Eleven actors of the 27 member cast are from the Broadway production. The ensemble is ideal, and the cast is honest and authentic to the “Bronx style” humor. It is not a strong story for women; yes, some sharp dancers sizzle in the classic 60’s fashion. The only strong female character is Marie Bell as Jane, and it is a challenge for the mom Rosina played by Michelle Aravena.
The moving song “The Choices We Make” closes the story proving lessons in life, family bonds and loyalty. But the book finds a lake of real heart and as the production numbers steal that from the coming of age story. The wise guys in the hood will make you laugh while showing little passion. Italians and African-Americans on opposite sides, like any classic Shakespeare theme. Chazz Palminteri’s original solo show worked well as a film but it has issues with musical theater. SHN offers friendly prices for this Holiday visit of A BRONX TALE. Rush seats are only 40.00 day of show that go on sale two hours before each performance at the box office. Or you can purchase discount tickets through Today Tix.com at 9am day of performance. Next up at SHN is COME FROM AWAY that opens in January 8th and HAMILTON makes its grand return February 12th. But in the meantime join Chazz Palminteri boyhood story as your holiday treat back to the 60’s.
A BRONX TALE
Broadway’s Hit New Musical
Book by Chazz Palminteri, Music by Alan Menken
and Lyrics by Glenn Slater
Directed by Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks
Choreographed by Sergio Trujillo
Must Close Dec 23rd
Running Time: 2 hours with a 15-minute intermission.
SHN GOLDEN GATE THEATRE
1 Taylor St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
photos by Joan Marcus
The cast of A BRONX TALE, which features 10 alumni from the Broadway production, Joe Barbara as Sonny, Richard H. Blake as Lorenzo, Joey Barreiro as Calogero, Michelle Aravena as Rosina, Brianna Marie Bell as Jane, Antonio Beverly as Tyrone, Frankie Leoni as Young Calogero, and Shane Pry as Young Calogero Alternate. The ensemble will feature Mike Backes, Michael Barra, Sean Bell, Josh Burrage, Joey Calveri, Giovanni DiGabrielle, John Gardiner, Peter Gregus, Haley Hannah, Kirk Lydell, Ashley McManus, Chris Messina, Kyli Rae, Joseph Sammour, Paul Salvatoriello, Jason Williams, and Brittany Williams.
The design team for A BRONX TALE includes Beowulf Boritt, Scenic Design; William Ivey Long, Costume Design; Howell Binkley, Lighting Design;Gareth Owen, Sound Design; Paul Huntley, Hair & Wig Design; Anne Ford-Coates, Makeup Design; Tara Rubin Casting, Casting; and Robert Westley, Fight Coordinator. Music Supervision and Arrangements are by Ron Melrose and Orchestrations are by Doug Besterman.
CHAZ TALKS ABOUT THE BRONX TALE
A Bronx Tale | Preview