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Theatre / A Bronx Tale

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A Bronx Tale is a 2016 musical based on both the one man play and 1993 film of the same name. The original Broadway production's book is written by creator Chazz Palminteri with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater. Robert De Niro, who also starred and directed the film, and Jerry Zaks co-directed.

Taking place in the 1960s, the show is about a boy named Calogero who lives in Belmont, an Italian-American neighborhood in The Bronx. One day while sitting on his stoop, he witnesses the local mob boss Sonny shoot a man who was beating another with a baseball bat. Following the ethics of the street, Calogero refuses to rat to the police, which causes Sonny to take a liking to the kid, nickname him "C" and take him under his wing. This worries Calogero's straight-laced, working-class father Lorenzo, who believes this will lead him on the wrong path. As C grows up, he's caught between his two mentors and the growing racial unrest of the decade as he falls in love with a black girl from another neighborhood.

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Described as a mix between Jersey Boys and West Side Story, the show features a score filled with music from the era including rock, doo-wop, and R&B.


In addition to the tropes present in the film, the musical contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The musical sheds more light onto why Lorenzo is always talking about wasted talent. Rosina reveals that Lorenzo was a talented saxophone player who dreamed of making it big, but had to give up his dream to support her after she got pregnant with C.
  • Adaptational Personality Change:
    • In the film, Lorenzo is fairly open-minded about race (for the time period anyway), but a bit uneasy when it comes to mixed marriages and relationships. When C talks to him about it, he just tells him to be careful. In the musical, when Lorenzo finds out about Jane, he is clearly unhappy about it and doesn't want C to date her.
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    • Jane's brother (Willie in the film, Tyrone in the musical), is extremely racist towards Italians in the musical, regularly hurling slurs towards them, and only accidentally reveals to Jane that C did not take part in his beating rather than confessing out of guilt and never apologizes to him for lying.
  • Arc Words: As opposed to the movie's "the saddest thing in life is wasted talent", here "Love or Fear" shows up more.
  • Ascended Extra: Rosina, C's mother, appears throughout the musical while in the film, she disappears after the Time Skip.
  • Best Served Cold: The son of the man Sonny shot kills him 8 years after the fact. At Sonny's wake, C and Carmine talk about it and Carmine tells him that Sonny always knew it would happen someday.
  • Bookends: The show begins and ends with a doo wop group harmonizing underneath the 187th Street & Belmont Avenue street sign.
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  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Subverted. Sonny is killed by the son of the man he shot 8 years earlier. C thinks this is the case, until Carmine tells him Sonny knew the guy would come after him someday.
  • Crowd Song: A few, but "Belmont Avenue" and "I Like It" especially stick out.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: "I Like It" is about C enjoying the perks that come with his friendship with Sonny.
  • Mickey Mousing: "Roll 'Em" features a maraca shaking in sync with C shaking the dice before rolling them.
  • The One Who Made It Out: Both Lorenzo and Sonny want C to become this. C eventually does make it out of the neighborhood and becomes successful in an unnamed field, though he does like to come back and visit the neighborhood on occasion.
  • Precision F-Strike: C calling Jane's brother the n-word is this because, unlike the film, the term is not used beforehand. The racist characters use other slurs like "spook" and "mooli".
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: A few reviewers criticized the romance plot, feeling that it was a rip-off of previous musicals like West Side Story and Memphis. Apparently they didn't realize the show is based off of Chazz Palminteri's life and he actually did date a black girl during the racial unrest of the late 1960s.
  • Shown Their Work: The Belmont Avenue set features signs for Madonia Bakery, Gino's Pastry Shop, Mike's Deli, and Borgatti Pasta, shops that actually existed in the real neighborhood during the time of the play and are still in business today.
  • Will They or Won't They?: C reveals at the end that he and Jane didn't last, but he still considers her his first "great one".
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