There goes the neighborhood. Just when it was getting cool to go to a Broadway musical, along comes the lumbering and hackneyed A Bronx Tale. I was not a fan of Chazz Palminteri’s 1989 solo show, about an Italian-American kid in the 1960s who is torn between allegiances to his hardworking father and a flashy local mob king. But it was improved into a 1993 movie, directed by Robert De Niro, and there was reason to hope it might grow even more as a musical. Instead, this latest iteration of A Bronx Tale, codirected by De Niro and Broadway vet Jerry Zaks, is a dud: a musically unmemorable mix of sappiness and contrived melodrama. (At the climax our hero screams, “Noooooo!”)
Palminteri’s adaptation hews to the original monologue through liberal use of narration, delivered by a grown-up Calogero (Bobby Conte Thornton). Aside from Machiavelli-quoting mobster Sonny—played with expertly calibrated swagger by Nick Cordero—none of the characters command interest, and Alan Menken and Glenn Slater’s doo-wop–heavy score is far too lightweight for a plot that features murders and racial hate crimes. It’s also, often, drippy: “Through the good and the bad / The happy and sad / Everywhere you go / Look to your heart.” My heart? Please. I was looking to my watch.
Longacre Theatre (Broadway). Book by Chazz Palminteri. Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Glenn Slater. Directed by Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks. With Bobby Conte Thornton, Nick Cordero, Richard H. Blake, Ariana De Bose. Running time: 2hrs. One intermission. Click here for full ticket and venue information.
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