In today’s Wall Street Journal I review the new musical version of A Bronx Tale. Here’s an excerpt.
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When should a movie be turned into a Broadway musical? “Never” is a big word, but the better the film, the longer the odds that it won’t survive the transformation without major damage. That’s why I had low hopes for “A Bronx Tale,” the new stage version of the 1993 coming-of-age movie directed by Robert De Niro, who has also co-directed the musical in collaboration with Jerry Zaks. It’s a fine little film, by turns sweetly poignant and tough-minded—so fine, in fact, that it’s hard to see how it could be improved by adding songs and dances. And that’s what’s wrong with the musical: It takes everything that was good about “A Bronx Tale” and waters it down until it’s as tasteless as a fast-food milkshake.
The book is by Chazz Palminteri, who wrote both the original screenplay and the 1989 one-man autobiographical play on which it was based, and it’s as faithful to the source material as you’d expect. All three versions tell the story of Calogero (here played as a child by Hudson Loverro and as a grownup by Bobby Conte Thornton), a bright kid from the Bronx who is forced to decide whether to follow in the footsteps of Lorenzo (Richard H. Blake), his hard-working, straight-arrow father, or Sonny (Nick Cordero), the local Mafia chieftain to whom he becomes attached as a boy.
It’s clear right from the start, though, that this new version, unlike its predecessors, will be earthbound, a show in which nothing ever happens that isn’t obvious….
Everything unfolds with predictably smooth Times Square professionalism, and I can imagine the results appealing to fans of “Jersey Boys” (including the dances, which were choreographed by Sergio Trujillo, who worked on that show as well). But for all its slickness, “A Bronx Tale” is nothing more than a weightless comic-book adaptation of the movie on which it’s based…
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Read the whole thing here.
Excerpts from the Broadway version of A Bronx Tale:
A scene from the film version of A Bronx Tale: