The John W, Engeman Theatre does it again with their current offering, A Bronx Tale. Based on Chazz Palminteri's 1993 movie and autobiographical play, Mr. Palminteri also created this musical incarnation with Alan Menken. This spectacular Paul Stancato directed production runs through May 8th at the exquisite Northport, Long Island, venue. Boasting a brilliant cast, this is indeed a must-see as we close out this long Winter season.
The tale centers on Calogero, excellently portrayed by Mike Cefalo, as he takes us on his journey growing up in the 1960's; I believe he's around seventeen as he's telling this story. As a child after witnessing a murder - and then meeting and becoming friends with the mob boss who committed said murder - he is torn between "the life" and his family in addition to his feelings for a girl. He wants to be loyal to his mother and father who work hard to provide a good life for him but also to Sonny who thinks of him like a son for not ratting him out to the cops for the murder. Indeed, it is an engaging and tantalizing tale.
Mike Keller is superb as Sonny giving the role the "tough guy" we expect but also, ironically, heart. The way Sonny protects Calogero is truly endearing. In addition, a highlight among the cast is Michael Deaner portraying Young Calogero. An audience favorite is his scene stealing performance of "I Like It" in Act One. Received by thunderous applause, I seriously thought there was going to be a mid-show standing ovation. You can tell the cast was so proud of him, too. You will also adore Mackenzie Meadows who is stunning as Jane, the girl who Calogero falls for. They make a wonderful team and Ms. Meadows performance in "Out Of Your Head" is top-notch.
On Mr. Stancato's creative team, you will immediately notice Kyle Dixon's majestic set as you enter the theatre. This is heightened by John Burkland's atmospheric lighting and Dustin Cross' beautiful costumes. Also, a special kudos to Laura Schubert's sound design all of which truly captures The Bronx at this period in time.
And so, I'd get your tickets for A Bronx Tale at the John W, Engeman Theatre as soon as possible as they are bound to be limited as the run continues. A gripping story, an extraordinary cast, and the beautiful Engemen Theatre make for a thrilling night of theatre.