A Bronx Tale

“If you have something important to say, Broadway and New York are great places to say it.” ~ Yakov Smirnoff

Being sick put a dent in my Thanksgiving week plans. Thankfully my man friend took pity and he and I decided to have a pre-Thanksgiving celebration taking in a Broadway show that is still in previews, but has gotten rave reviews. (It opens December 1.)

A Bronx Tale has been touted as Godfather meets West Side Story and the description fits perfectly. I didn’t realize before seeing it, that it was based on a movie directed by Robert Di Niro who also co-directed the musical. My usual obsession in meticulous research and knowledge of all things Broadway was sorely lacking. But it also led to many pleasant surprises while watching it.

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Based in 1960’s Bronx, the play follows an Italian boy, Calogero living on Belmont street, torn between the example of hard honest work set by his father and being enamored by the glitzy, yet corrupted life of a mob boss willing to take him under his wing. All while falling for a girl who lives on Webster Avenue, the black neighborhood of the bronx.

It isn’t all strictly bad or good. Even the moral high ground his father tends to take, is diminished by prejudice. While you want to hate the mob boss, Sonny, because of the life he leads, many of his philosophical views endears him tot he audience. You can see the attraction of why Calogero is drawn to him.

From father-son relationships, to right and wrong, to prejudices, to love it could quite easily have been a heavy and depressing show. Making you feel like you were in a therapy session or philosophical class, then to see entertainment. Yet, with catchy music, numerous comedic one liners and zingers, many of which took on New Yorkers Italian, and Catholic stereotypes, it was a laugh out loud funny show. One that made you leave reflective, but also happy.

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One of the surprises was watching the delightful young kid who played nine year old Calogero. It wasn’t a show you would think would have kids in it (especially if you haven’t seen the movie), but from the moment he first appeared and for much of the first act, Hudson Loverro wooed the audience with his raw talent, and absolute adorableness.

Another surprise was Ariana Debose who previously performed in Hamilton and Pippin of which I saw her in the latter and remembered falling in love with her voice at the time. Her voice literally sent chills down my spine. I could have listened to her sing all of the songs in the show. Every time she left the stage, I didn’t want her to leave. She is the next Idina Menzel or Audrey McDonald. True talent.

Another stunning voice was Richard H Blake who played Calogero’s father, Lorenzo. I admit that men’s voices are less likely to evoke feeling then a woman’s, but when Blake performed “These Streets” you could feel the emotion he had for his son.

It was a wonderful way to spend an evening, a great story, catchy music, several stunning voices.

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To end the night we took a stroll through Rock Center checking out the light show Saks does every year. It was definitely the perfect way to not just end the night, but to kick off the Thanksgiving week and thus the Holiday Season.

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How was your weekend?

 

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