BWW Review: A BRONX TALE at Hanover Theatre In Worcester, MA
If you like your coming-of-age-on-the-mean-streets stories served with an extra side of red sauce, then Chazz Palminteri's semi-autobiographical A BRONX TALE is for you. Featuring characters with names like Rudy the Voice, Eddie Mush, Jojo the Whale and Frankie Coffeecake, this musical adaptation of Palminteri's acclaimed movie, later made into a one-man Broadway play in which Palminteri also starred, pits the young Calogero (Trey Murphy) in a tug of war between his upstanding blue collar Dad, Lorenzo (American Idol winner Nick Fradiani), and the flashy mob boss Sonny (Jeff Brooks) whom the newly dubbed "C" idolizes.
As "C" matures into a 17-year-old young man, he (now played by Alec Nevin) must choose between a clean but hardscrabble life in which he follows his Dad's advice to "Look to Your Heart" and one of violence, racketeering and fear touted by Sonny in his ode to "Nicky Machiavelli." Initially, "C" chooses the power and easy money, but once he realizes that the high stakes life of crime is really an all too ugly game of life and death, he wises up and rejects the wise guy path.
Palminteri and the rest of the creative team, including directors Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks, don't let A BRONX TALE venture too far into Goodfellas territory, though. The grown Calogero's sentimental narration softens the tale through the foggy lens of memory, and Alan Menken and Glenn Slater's score is a romantic '60s Doo Wop light. Serjio Trujillo's sprightly choreography signals the innocence of youth sprinkled with hormone-infused flirtations. William Ivey Long's period-perfect costumes are more tough times than tough guy.
Women are almost incidental in this macho musical turf war between the Italian thugs of Belmont Avenue and the young black men of Webster. One exception is Jane (Kayla Jenerson), the winsome black high school student who catches Calogero's eye. A whirlwind romance turns dangerous when the rival gangs square off against each other, but Nevin and Jenerson both make their attraction steadfast and strong. Their hopeful duet "In a World Like This" is one of the highlights of the show.
A BRONX TALE is at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester for just two more performances, this Sunday, January 19, at 1:00 and 6:30 p.m. It's a pleasant diversion on a wintry afternoon. It may not be the hottest show in town, but it will warm your heart.
Book by Chazz Palminteri; music by Alan Menken; lyrics by Glenn Slater; based on the play by Chazz Palminteri; original direction by Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks; tour direction by Stephen Edlund; original choreography by Sergio Trujillo; choreography recreated by Brittany Conigatti; music supervision and arrangements, Ron Melrose; scenic design, Beowulf Boritt; costume design, William Ivey Long; lighting design, Howell Binkley; sound design, Gareth Owen; hair and wig design, Paul Huntley; makeup design, Anne Ford-Coates; fight coordinator, Robert Westley; orchestrations, Doug Besterman; music direction, David Aaron Brown; period music consultant, Johnny Gale; music coordinator, John Mezzio; production stage manager, Mariah Young
Performances and Tickets:
Now through Sunday, January 19, Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts, 2 Southbridge Street, Worcester, Mass.; tickets start at $39 and are available at the box office, by calling 508-471-1689 or online at www.TheHanoverTheatre.org .
Cast in Order of Appearance:
Doo-Wop Guys, Tyler Dema, Brett Pederson, Rhys Williams; Calogero, Alec Nevin; Sonny, Jeff Brooks; Young Calogero, Trey Murphy; Carmine, Adam Grabau; Man with a Bat, Rhys Williams; Rosina, Stefanie Londino; Lorenzo, Nick Fradiani; Police Officer, Adam Grabau; Rudy the Voice, Joey Trombino; Eddie Mush, Martin Bonventre; Jojo the Whale, Nathan Wright; Frankie Coffeecake, Mark Sippel; Tony 10 to 2, Daniel Rosenbaum; Sally Slick, Rhys Williams; Handsome Nick, Bryan Dougherty; Crazy Mario, Tyler Dema; Jesse, Darius Vines; Denise, Mairys Joaquin; Tryone, George Vickers V; Jane, Kayla Jenerson; Frieda, Breia Kelley; Gang Leader, Adam Grabau; Young Lorenzo, Brett Pederson; Ensemble, Martin Bonventre, Hallie Brevetti, Lauren Celentano, Tyler Dema, Adam Grabau, Mairys Joaquin, Breia Kelley, Christopher Miles, Brett Pederson, Daniel Rosenbaum, Mark Sippel, Joey Trombino, Darius Vines, Rhys Williams, Nathan Wright
(PHOTOS COURTESY OF HANOVER THEATRE)