Many remember the film “A Bronx Tale” twenty-five years ago, but may not know that it is based on a one-man show that actor Chazz Palminteri did for years before that (and still does about twenty-five dates a year with to this day). A couple of years ago, it completed a full circle as it was turned into a Broadway musical, and a lot of that cast has decided to stay with it as it is now a national touring company finding itself at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas through January 6th.
Based on Palminteri’s own story, “A Bronx Tale” takes place on Belmont Avenue in The Bronx, New York which in the 1960s was known as an Italian neighborhood where Sonny (Joe Barbara) runs the streets through fear. Young Calogero (Frankie Leoni and Shane Pry at some performances) witnesses Sonny’s power in the streets and after convincing the cops that Sonny was not the perpetrator, Sonny decides to take Calogero under his wing and teach him his ways. At the same time Calogero’s father, Lorenzo (Richard H. Blake) is trying to show him that is not the best life to live in order for his son to live up to his full potential, which does not sit well with “C” (a nickname Sonny gives him). In the midst of all of this, Calogero sparks up a romance with Jane, a lovely African-American girl from school, which sparks the already tens battle between the races begins and some hard choices have to be made.
The music supervision and arrangements by Ron Melrose are strong here, and they help to continue the story as opposed to putting a pause in action for a musical number. I did have some difficulty understanding the lyrics of some of the songs, but I don’t know if it was the way sound was being run or just my own hearing. From a production standpoint, the set design allowed for easy change over whether going to the street, inside the house, the bar, the record store, and others. The lighting was well done, and there was even had a bit of fun with introducing Sonny’s crew as if mug shots were being taken.
The cast is strong and they did pull me into the tale, making this an enjoyable show and interesting to see how the musical aspect plays into the story. Check this out while it is in Dallas or if it comes to your town while on this tour!