"A Bronx Tale" at Longacre Theatre in NYC - Will's New York Nite Life
"A Bronx Tale" by Chazz Palminteri, Alan Menken and Glenn Slater at Longacre Theater
Original Cast Album on Ghostlight Records
220 West 48th Street
Listening to the newly-released cast album of this 2016 production underscores how musical theater is the top of the cultural food chain for any story. As with the Broadway version of “Legally Blonde,” these can be so well done that they’ll replace all the previous incarnations in our affections. “A Bronx Tale,” which originated as a non-musical play in 1989 and then as a film in 1993, is a classic coming of age story about a young man in that borough circa 1960 his relationships with his long-suffering but well-intentioned father, the local gang boss who becomes his Mafioso mentor, and the unlikely girl who becomes “his first great one.” Composer Alan Menken comes up with a rich score that reaches back to his 1982 “Little Shop of Horrors” in its use of vintage rock-pop styles, though in this case all with Italian-American accents. The earlier songs in Act One suggest doo-wop, as we get later in the 1960s there are echoes of Frankie Valli and Teddy Randazzo, and by the end of the decade (especially in scenes depicting African-American characters) foreshadowings of funk and disco. The general mood of the music also recalls Billy Joel’s 1984 song “For The Longest Time,” the feel of early rock but expanded harmonically and even philosophically in order to support the weight of more involved characters and narrative. Overall, it’s a tuneful and memorable score (well sung by principals Nick Cordero, Richard H. Blake, Bobby Conte Thornton, and “Hamilton”’s Ariana Debose) with plenty of songs that Broadway hopefuls will be auditioning with (and singing at “Cast Party” at Birdland) for years to come.
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL & VANITY FAIR, and reviews current shows for THE OBSERVER and THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of eight books including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)