Review Roundup: A BRONX TALE at Paper Mill Playhouse - UPDATED!
Paper Mill Playhouse presents the world premiere musical A BRONX TALE: THE MUSICAL. The musical is co-directed by two-time Oscar winner Robert De Niro and four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks, with choreography by four-time Drama Desk Award nominee Sergio Trujillo. A BRONX TALE: THE MUSICAL features a book by Chazz Palminteri, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater.
Leading the company are Jason Gotay as Calogero, Joshua Colley as Young Calogero, Nick Cordero as Sonny,Richard H. Blake as Lorenzo, Coco Jones as Jane and Lucia Giannetta as Rosina.
Based on the real life story by Chazz Palminteri‚ A BRONX TALE: THE MUSICAL is set against the backdrop of racial strife and organized crime in the 1960s. It is the story of an Italian-American teenager finding his path in life as he must choose between the father who raised him and a mob-boss father figure who fascinates him.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld: The night belongs to Cordero, whose slick and polished Sonny is darkly funny, but always a threat. The evening is handsomely co-directed by Robert De Niro, who directed the film while playing Lorenzo, and Jerry Zaks, who helmed Palminteri's 2007 Broadway solo engagement. One imagines Zak took care of the healthy pacing and effective sight gags and romantic visuals, while De Niro kept the acting authentic. While the show doesn't feature any big dance moments, Sergio Trujillo's choreography is classically vintage. Fix up the story-telling and A BRONX TALE will look like a winner. It's more than halfway there.
Charles Isherwood, The New York Times: The tug of war for the soul of a young man on the mean streets of the Bronx may not sound like a subject that sings. But Chazz Palminteri's "A Bronx Tale"...has proved to be comfortably malleable material...The creative team is packed with veteran talent, resulting in an exceptionally slick and skillfully assembled musical...And while the ballads are sometimes stocked with clichés, the atmosphere of the bustling Italian-American neighborhood...is captured by Mr. Slater with lively humor...The moral arc of the plot may be familiar, even predictable, but it's in the gritty details, often drawn with humor, that "A Bronx Tale" wins you over. Mr. Palminteri's writing brims with sharply funny characterizations...The central roles are mostly well cast, although Mr. Gotay, while a fine singer, doesn't provide the show with a particularly commanding central figure. Mr. Cordero...is ideal as Sonny, who radiates a dangerous chilliness.
Frank Rizzo, Variety: It's not a stretch to imagine a musical version of "A Bronx Tale." The 1993 film adaptation of Chazz Palminteri's autobiographical one-man play - about growing up in the '60s in a tough Italian-American neighborhood amid gangsters, romance and a changing racial time - is infused with music. But what may surprise, in the world premiere of the musical adaptation at Paper Mill Playhouse, is the addition of Robert De Niro, who directed and co-starred in the film and here co-directs the stage version with Broadway veteran Jerry Zaks. It's an odd coupling that results in a show that at times seems to be at odds with itself.
Matt Windman, amNY: The musical, which resembles a combination of "Jersey Boys" and "West Side Story," has a lot of promise (especially in Palminteri's heartfelt storytelling and Menken's early rock-style score), but it needs more work before it heads to New York or elsewhere.
Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter: The 1960s-set story is narrated by Calogero (Jason Gotay), who tells us how, as a young boy (understudy Vincenzo Faruolo, excellent, at the reviewed performance), he witnessed the cold-blooded murder of a man on the street in front of his Belmont Avenue stoop. The perpetrator was the neighborhood's reigning gangster Sonny (Nick Cordero), who takes Calogero under his wing when the boy refuses to identify him in a lineup, heeding the unspoken rule that the worst thing to be is a rat.
Photo Credit: Jerry Dalia