Let’s talk about A Bronx Tale.
So many things going for it. It’s an interesting premise that did pull me in initially. A kid from the Bronx with a loving family, who witnesses a murder, lies to the police, and ends up being taken under the wing of the man who did it. Already questionable in terms of likability.
Act 1 finds the main character, Calogero, enjoying the glamour and perks of being the project of a very influential gangster, Sonny. However, it also finds him completely at odds with his mom and dad, evidently for no other reason than his dad taking away a bunch of money that Calogero gambled for when he was 9. The source of tension and conflict is never really explained. Then (very randomly) at the end of Act 1, he meets a girl that he is attracted to. But she is black, and he worries about potential complications. The end of the act finds him struggling with the ultimate fork in the road facing him. Does he want to be feared (the path of Sonny)? Or does he want to be loved (the path of his family)? The act ends on a good note. It is not a flawless first act, but I wondered where the criticism for the show was coming from.
And then Act 2 happens and I understood. SO many things crammed into 45 minutes, I found myself staring at the stage in disbelief at times. Spoilers ahead.
– He pursues the girl, Jane. They don’t ever bond over anything in particular other than their surface-level attraction to one another.
-They agree to go on a date.
– He asks his father’s opinion on dating a ‘colored girl.’ His dad (who we are supposed to root for), responds that he isn’t prejudiced, but he doesn’t want that for his son. Calogero protests this point of view.
– His dad tells him that he’s ‘done with him’ after they argue. His mom sings a song about what a great heart his father has.
-Calogero realizes his dad isn’t so bad, and says he’ll apologize.
-Calogero does not, in fact, apologize.
– Calogero tells Sonny about the date, Sonny is happy for him and tells him that you only get three good women to love in your life.
– On his way home, Jane’s brother and some friends get beat up by some white guys. Calogero stops the fight, pulling the white guys off them
– Calogero arrives to take Jane on the date, but her brother is there and claims that he was the one who beat him up.
-Calogero gets angry and calls him the n-word and storms away…? Jane determines that he’s just like every other white person.
– Her brother then lets fly (with zero prompting) that Calogero stopped the fight. He didn’t take part in it, but it’s the ‘same thing…?’
-Jane runs off to find Calogero because he’s now NOT like every other white person. Even though he called her brother the n-word.
-Calogero meets up with his friends and decides that he would like to hurt some black people (??????) and burn down Jane’s brother’s bar.
-Sonny stops their car and pulls Calogero out. They fight. Calogero tells Sonny to fuck himself.
– Jane finds Calogero, they sing a romantic ballad about how in love they could end up being.
– Only after this ballad does Calogero mention to Jane that his friends are on their way to potentially murder her brother.
– Calogero’s friends end up killing themselves in their attempt to set the bar on fire.
– Calogero realizes Sonny saved him and has to run to tell him.
– Sonny gets shot right as Calogero arrives.
– Calogero goes to the funeral and starts talking to the casket, and is interrupted by his dad, who couldn’t stand their relationship and essentially disowned his son over it, who is there to pay his respects.
– They make up.
-Calogero decides to leave the Bronx.
-Calogero determines that Jane is one of his three ‘good ones’ despite the two of them never even going on a date.
So, yeah. The plot kind of crumbles to the ground after intermission. That’s not to say there were not many positives.
The music was phenomenal, it was loud, catchy and energetic. I wasn’t bored during any of the songs. It did remind me a lot of Jersey Boys and West Side Story.
The choreography was excellent and super engaging.
The set was awesome.
The cast is insanely talented, particularly Adam Kaplan and Hudson Loverro (!!!!) who is the most talented child I have ever seen onstage.
I was entertained, but not moved. I saw the show for free, and wouldn’t pay to see it again unless something interesting happened with casting. Glad I went, but wouldn’t tell you to make this a priority.