A Bronx Tale tells the story of Calogero Anello, a young boy from a working class family who gets involved in the world of organized crime. Calogero's father is a bus driver who tries to instill working-class family values in his son. As Calogero gets older, the aura and mystique of the Mafia, and the charms of Sonny, the local mob boss who befriends Calogero (and ends up becoming a father figure to him), become difficult to resist. As Calogero comes of age, he must struggle with the choice of following his beloved father's values or submitting to the temptations of the life of organized crime.
Palminteri states that he began writing the play after being fired from a club when, as a doorman, he refused entry to super agent Swifty Lazar.
A Bronx Tale premiered in Los Angeles, achieving great critical success. Palminteri relates that "After some polishing, the show opened to positive reviews and soon attracted Hollywood interest. 'Every director, every studio head wanted to make the movie,' Palminteri said. 'They offered, $250,000, $500,000.'"
He then appeared in the play Off-Broadway at Playhouse 91, from October 10, 1989 to December 24, 1989, directed by Mark X. Travis. The play had a sold-out run and Palminteri received a 1989-1990 Special Award from the Outer Critics Circle.
Academy Award winning actor Robert De Niro attended a performance of A Bronx Tale and offered to buy the film rights to the show. Palminteri agreed to sell the film rights on the conditions that he would be able to write the screenplay and that he be cast as the role of Sonny. The film version of A Bronx Tale premiered in 1993. The film version marked the directorial debut of De Niro and helped catapult Palminteri's film acting career.
In 2007, Palminteri performed his one-man show on Broadway. The Broadway production began previews on October 4, 2007, and premiered on October 25, 2007, at the Walter Kerr Theatre. The show closed on February 24, 2008, after 108 performances and nineteen previews. It was directed by Jerry Zaks, with the set designed by Jim Noone, and the lighting designed by Paul Gallo. It recouped its capitalization and was followed by a national tour. The play was nominated for the 2007-2008 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Solo Performance.
After a ten year development process, the original one man show was adapted into a new musical with a book by Chazz Palminteri, music by Alan Menken, and lyrics by Glenn Slater, and premiered at the Paper Mill Playhouse (Milburn, New Jersey) on February 4, 2016 before opening on Broadway December 1 later that year.
The musical is co-directed by Robert De Niro, who directed the original film, and Jerry Zaks, who directed the one man show on Broadway in 2007. The show also features choreography by Sergio Trujillo. Tommy Mottola serves as the production's leading producer.
The production includes sets by Beowulf Boritt, costumes by William Ivey Long, lighting by Howell Binkley, and sound by Gareth Owen. The cast features Bobby Conte Thornton as Calogero, Nick Cordero as Sonny, Hudson Loverro as Young Calogero with Athan Sporek as his alternate, Richard H. Blake as Lorenzo, Ariana DeBose as Jane, and Lucia Giannetta as Rosina.
The musical began previews on Broadway on November 3, 2016 before officially opening on December 1, 2016 at the Longacre Theatre where it continues to run today.
The principal original cast of the Broadway production.