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A Bronx Tale – John W. Engeman Theater – Theatre Review

Directed and choreographed by Paul Stancato, and based on Chazz Palminteri’s semi-autobiographical story, A Bronx Tale is a timeless tale of coming of age, innocence of first love, and Italian-American family values vs the fast life of gangsters and mob money. From March 24th to May 8th, The John W. Engeman Theater in Northport will be transformed into the heart of 1960s Bronx, NY on the corner of Belmont Avenue and Webster Avenue.

Young Calogero witnesses a murder outside his front stoop by a neighborhood gangster Sonny and quickly decides he’s no rat. Sonny, soon after, takes him under his wing and shows him what life can buy if you’re willing to not be a “sucker”. Raised by his honest hard working father Lorenzo, he battles between two worlds when he finds himself falling for an African-American girl from school who lives on the other side of town. Tension breaks when his two worlds collide.

The lead role of Calogero, played by Mike Cefalo who doubles as the musical’s narrator, shines all the way through. Cefalo’s narration paced the musical very well, he was smooth and really lit up when he shared the stage with Jane played by Mackenzie Meadows. You won’t get this pair “Out of Your Head” after seeing them together. Meadows swept us away by her effortless vocals. Her confidence and range on stage steals every scene she is in.

Lorenzo, played by Charlie Marcus, is a key role in painting the picture of these two worlds co-existing on Belmont Avenue. Harlie is both soft and loving with young Calogero while standing his ground with Sonny when he pays him a visit at the Famous Chez Bippy, in hopes of stirring his son away from a life of crime.

Mike Keller plays a very convincing Sonny, capturing the essence of his larger than life local mob boss persona. In what could be considered one of A Bronx Tale’s most iconic scenes, the dice game, Sonny really steals the show with his rendition of “Roll ‘Em”.

Tyler Dema (Crazy Mario), Frankie Rocco (Handsome Nick), and Steven Gagliano (Sally Slick) do their best to lead C (Calogero) even further down a path of bad decisions and poor choices. This group brought energy and excitement to the stage as they stirred the pot.

We were taken to the side streets of Calogero’s front stoop, outside his high school, the corner of Belmont & Webster Avenue, The Chez Bippy, and fell in love with the impressive car scene of “One of The Great Ones” designed by Kyle Dixon. Paired with the preppy 1960’s fashion scene selected by Dustin Cross which was a delight to see, the music directed by Benjamin Stayner was a breath of new life into this powerful story of good and evil, right and wrong, and how easy it is for those lines to get blurred.

If you’re familiar with A Bronx Tale the movie, I’ll tell you this – nobody is wasting their talents in this musical and nobody would be wasting their night by getting to the theater soon to see this timeless classic. I highly recommend. You will not be disappointed.

A Bronx Tale is running at The John W. Engeman Theater until May 8th, 2022. For tickets, directions and current entrance requirements click here.

Tyler Dema (Crazy Mario), Mike Cefalo (Calogero), Frankie Rocco (Handsome Nick), Steven Gagliano (Sally Slick). Photo by John W. Engeman Theater

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