Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks Co-Direct New Musical
On November 3, 2016, A Bronx Tale began previews at the Longacre Theatre. The new musical has a book by Chazz Palminteri, based off the play that was written and performed in a one-man show by Palminteri. The score has music by Alan Menken (Aladdin, Newsies, The Little Mermaid) and lyrics by Glenn Slater (School of Rock – the Musical, Leap of Faith, Sister Act). The show is directed by Jerry Zaks (Hello, Dolly!, Sister Act, Losing Louie, A Bronx Tale the play) along with Robert De Niro, who also serves as producer under the shingle Tribeca Productions, along with Jane Rosenthal. The other producers include Tommy Mottola and the Dodgers. A Bronx Tale was written as an autobiographical one-man show by Chazz Palminteri and first premiered in Los Angeles to great acclaim, followed by an Off-Broadway production in 1989. It was then that Robert De Niro first became involved in the production, when he saw the Off-Broadway show and offered to buy the film rights. Palminteri agreed, given the stipulation that he could write the screenplay and play the lead role. The film was released in 1993 to critical acclaim. The play also had a Broadway run in 2007, directed by Jerry Zaks. The musical premiered in a regional production at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey in February 2016, prior to coming to Broadway.
The autobiographical A Bronx Tale tells the story of a young boy from the Bronx named Calogero Anello, whose father is a bus driver who endeavors to instill the values of a strong working class mentality in his son. As time goes on, the local mob boss, Sonny, becomes a sort of father figure to Calogero, and he finds it difficult to resist the mystique of the mafia. He is therefore torn between following the family values his true father tries to pass on, or the values of the organized crime boss that becomes so attractive to him. The co-directing relationship between Jerry Zaks and Robert De Niro stems back to the film Marvin’s Room, which was Zaks’ first time directing a film. The two have been friends ever since, and De Niro tapped Zaks to direct the Broadway rendition of the play version of A Bronx Tale. As for delineating responsibilities, De Niro admitted to Entertainment Weekly that Zaks does a lot of the heavy lifting, but Zaks graciously replied that De Niro’s contribution is also invaluable. The two of them discuss the best way to approach the material before its implementation. Unlike the straight play, the musical is not a one-man show. Its large ensemble cast includes Bobby Conte Thornton as Calogero in his Broadway debut, as well as Nick Cordero (Waitress) as Sonny, Richard H. Blake (Matilda) as Lorenzo, Ariana DeBose (Hamilton) as Jane, and Lucia Giannetta (Les Misérables) as Rosina.
An Excellent Debut at the Box Office
In the show’s first partial week of three performances, it brought in $324,821, which represents 91.58% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $210.00, the average paid admission was $108.60, and the audience was filled up to 95.5% of its capacity. This is a strong entrance for a new musical, which is being widely advertised along with Robert De Niro’s participation in it. Time will tell whether reviews match the hype, and whether the box office can sustain its momentum. The show will officially open on December 1, 2016, and is set for an open-ended run at this stage.