Review Roundup: A BRONX TALE on Tour, What do Critics Think?
The national tour of "A Bronx Tale" is doo-wopping across the U.S. Check out what critics from tour stops like LA, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and more have to say about the production in their reviews below.
A Bronx Tale Tour Cast
Joey Barreiro stars as Calogero, with Richard Blake reprising his role as Calogero's father, Lorenzo, from the Broadway run, and fellow Broadway company vet, Michelle Aravena as Calogero's mother, Rosina. Joe Barbara plays the Chazz Palminteri orignated role of Sonny, and Brianna Marie-Bell plays Calogero's love interest, Jane.
Los Angeles Reviews
Jordan Riefe, The Hollywood Reporter: Upstaging nearly everyone is Sonny, with Joe Barbara taking over the role originated by Nick Cordero, and later Palminteri himself. Mixing Goodfellas' Ray Liotta with a dash of Frank Sinatra, Barbara is cool and charismatic, making fear seem fun in songs like "Nicky Machiavelli," extolling the virtues of the tyrannous 15th-century political philosopher. His torch song, "One of the Great Ones," about the girl that got away, is a Sinatra-like showstopper, highlighting Glenn Slater's lyrics.
Samuel Garza Bernstein, Stage and Cinema: A Bronx Tale is a mainstream, commercial enterprise that does not strive to be Hamilton or Fun Home, nor should it. Yet it violates the most basic of Broadway traditions: Boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. That happens here, but then the boy tosses her aside, leaving us unsettled and unhappy. Why did we invest all that time listening to all those love songs if he can blithely dismiss her? In real life, they probably wouldn't have stayed together. But love in musicals is meant to last forever.
Dany Margolies, Los Angeles Daily News: If you ever reminisce about the exquisite orchestrations of 1960s Motown, then thanks to arranger Ron Melrose and orchestrator Doug Besterman you can find those sounds in "A Bronx Tale." And you'll have ample time to focus on them, because lyrics, particularly in the ensemble numbers, are largely indecipherable.
Don Grigware, BroadwayWorld: The cast are all dynamite under the tough amd steady hands of De Niro and Zaks. Leoni is a standout as little Calogero. It's engaging to witness a boy's unsteady development, and Leoni captures to perfection the difficulty of loving two paternal figures. Barbara is just great as Sonny, tough and threatening yet leaving a darkly friendly impression. Blake does his best with a complex role, and Michelle Aravena has terrific moments as Calogero's mom, that is overall a thankless role. Bell is a sensational triple threat. She's sweet, and boy oh boy can she sing and dance, replicating Sergio Trujillo's thrilling steps to the letter.
San Francisco Reviews
Lily Janiak, Datebook: The score, by Alan Menken, pipes in awkwardly, forcing characters to break into song when they're about to, say, erupt in a fistfight, which makes the neighborhood seem less tough than cute. At best, the music itself vanishes from memory as soon as you hear it. At worst, it makes its black characters - one of whom, Jane (Brianna-Marie Bell), is Calogero's love interest - sing "Webster Avenue," which sounds as white as a rejected number from "Grease."
Robert Sokol, BroadwayWorld: Richard H. Blake is the highlight of the engaging company, reprising his Broadway role of Lorenzo, Calogero's hard-working father, who gave up his ambitions to raise an unexpected family. Blake radiates integrity, singing with warmth and conviction when encouraging his young son to "Look to Your Heart" for the answers to important questions.
Sam Hurwitt, The Mercury News: There are some amusing bits. For example, when we're introduced to each of Sonny's cronies with funny nicknames (Frankie Coffeecake, Tony Ten-to-Two), each one poses as if for mugshots. Ultimately, however, what worked pretty well as a personal story when Palminteri told it by himself becomes pretty pedestrian and by-the-numbers when it's inflated into a musical.
Rachel Weinberg, BroadwayWorld: While this may not sound upbeat, A BRONX TALE's primary mission is clearly one of entertainment. With direction by Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks and swinging choreography by Sergio Trujillo, A BRONX TALE has many pleasurable ensemble numbers rife with lush harmonies and slick dance moves. Menken's enjoyable score feels like a cross between JERSEY BOYS and LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, suitable for the show's setting and undeniably the composer's work. The overall feel conveys the vibrancy of Calogero's neighborhood and the community that surrounds him.
Scott C. Morgan, The Daily Herald: But the main problem with "A Bronx Tale" as a musical is that it is overstuffed. A number of plot points (father-figure fights, inter-gang group dynamics, neighborhood racial tensions, interracial romance) all could garner a slew of separate musicals in their own right.
Kerry Reid, Chicago Reader: Thankfully, the cast in this touring version of the Broadway production (directed by De Niro and Jerry Zaks) deliver performances both fresh and assured. Richard H. Blake's Lorenzo and Joe Barbara's Sonny both have smart and heartfelt-if divergent-paternal advice for Calogero. Brianna-Marie Bell as Jane, the black girl Calogero falls for, is incandescent in an underwritten role, and Joey Barreiro as teenage Calogero nails the vulnerable boy trying to pass himself off as a budding tough.
Andrea Simakis, Cleveland.com: A score by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater faithfully captures the Frankie Valli era. Most songs are solid, toe tappers and a few even carry us away. Blake brings his operatic voice and raw emotion to "These Streets," Lorenzo's wrenching realization that despite his best efforts, the tidal pull of Sonny and the excitement of the fast life have taken his son from him.
Gwendolyn Kochur, SCENE: Joey Barreiro plays a charming and cool Calogero. His voice contains just the right amount of rasp and bite that fits the character very well, which is especially true during the song "Hurt Someone." Calogero has many funny quips that mostly poke fun at Italian-American stereotypes, and Barreiro delivers them effortlessly, resulting in a mirthful audience.
Chad Young, Nashville Parent: The score contains its fair share of typical musical theater ballads, but it's the doo-wop infused numbers and ones with Motown and early rock flavors that hit the mark. Bell shines in both "Webster Avenue" and "Out of Your Head." The cast slickly executes Trujillo's amazing choreography, and there's a lot of high-energy oomph throughout the two-hour show. While there's not necessarily anything groundbreaking about A Bronx Tale, it proves to be an entertaining good time with a buoyancy and humor that are no doubt infectious.
Nashville Noise Staff, Nashville Noise: There's no wasted talent as this extraordinary mix of singing and choreography tell the tale of how one boy survived a tumultuous era. It's highlighted by a standout performance by Joe Barbara who plays Sonny, a mob boss who befriends "C" after Calogero refuses to rat him out for the shooting he witnessed.
Don Aucoin, Boston Globe: Unfortunately, "A Bronx Tale'' doesn't delve deeply enough into this story of competing filial loyalties to fully unearth its psychological complexities, choosing instead to baldly telegraph the issues at play. "He's not your son!'' Lorenzo snaps at Sonny at one point; at another, Lorenzo tells Calogero that he, Lorenzo, is the true tough guy because he gets up and goes to work each and every morning. These are things best left for an audience to figure out on their own.
Jed Gottlieb, Boston Herald: "A Bronx Tale" follows a formula but, nicely, decides to end in an unexpected place. Instead of a mighty climax with a neat resolution and the full ensemble belting out a finale number in full jazz-hands mode, it blends nostalgia and nuance. Calogero leaves the old neighborhood without fixing it or hating it or moving on to a better place. He just leaves because it's no longer home.
Nancy Grossman, BroadwayWorld: Barreiro is an engaging performer who represents the internal tug of war his character feels. Leoni is a confident dynamo who exudes the thrills the boy feels when he becomes the mini-king of Belmont Avenue, simply by his association with Sonny. (Shane Pry plays Young Calogero at some performances.) Blake captures the solid, grounded character of the man who truly loves his son, while Barbara has the swagger and charisma that justify the boy's attraction to him. All three of the men nail their vocals, and convey some unexpected poignance in "These Streets" (Blake) and "One of the Great Ones" (Barbara).
Washington, D.C. Reviews
Ramona Harper, DC Metro Theater Arts: A terrific ensemble of 15 completes a big cast of performers who are completely in sync with each other and professionally polished. Sergio Trujillo's vivacious choreography mimicked Chuck Berry's duck walk energy, Step Afrika's slapdash foot stomping, and George Chakiris' street-smart cool from West Side Story.
Nelson Pressley, The Washington Post: Co-director Jerry Zaks keeps things lean and forward-moving - the show barely tops two hours, plus intermission - but there's no escaping how much flabbier the musical is than the surprisingly effective movie, which featured Palminteri as Sonny and De Niro as the dad in a fascinating, fair moral fight. Here, the elbow-in-the-ribs gags and flaring arguments are broad, and the plotting at the climax distractingly throws too many ingredients into an over-boiling pot. If you're a fan of "A Bronx Tale" and want to see how the story sings, this may not let you down. If you're a hardcore musical theater buff, it won't cut much ice.
Alexander C. Kafka, DC Theatre Scene: Can the gritty authenticity of the story survive the leap from straight drama to musical? The answer is yes-if you find a cast that blends Scorsese- and Coppola-film-type character acting with vocal and dance chops. That's a lot to ask, but this remarkable team has the goods.
Kristin Franco, MD Theatre Guide: Barreiro very ably anchors this production. His voice and accent are both on-point, and he is able to successfully navigate both the comedy and drama this story requires. He shines on the opening number, "Belmont Avenue," which opens the show and introduces you to Calogero's world. Calveri, who portrayed Sonny for the show that I viewed, was excellent in this difficult and demanding role. The dichotomy of this character is paramount to this story; he is a gangster and a killer, which we see only moments after the performance begins.
About "A Bronx Tale"
The musical is based off of both Chazz Palminteri's one man show and film of the same name. It features a book written by Palminteri, score by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, direction by Robert DeNiro and Jerry Zaks, and choreography by Sergio Trujillo.
How To Get Tickets
If you want to catch the tour in its upcoming stops: Madison, Fort Lauderdale, New Haven, Fort Worth or Kansas City, make sure you tap here to buy tickets.