Chazz Palminteri and the Many Forms of His Epic Life Story


Vulture stated the stories that center on street violence, mob activity, and brutal extortion tactics oftentimes have conflicts with Broadway musicals. The authors of “A Bronx Tale” decided to solve the difficulty by combining the bleak side of “West Side Story” and the more comical “Bullets over Broadway.” The Broadway musical is one of the many forms of Chazz Palminteri’s epic life story and the premise of the main character.

Variety reported that the Broadway adaption of the early ’90s film, which was based on the late ’80s one-man play, is set in the rough ’60s Bronx, New York. Howell Binkley developed the lighting. Beowulf Boritt designed the wrought-iron fire escapes, a signature of the Bronx, in the style of Louis Sullivan.

The general color is red to define the iron in the architecture. Despite the general aura of a rougher mid-20th century ethnic Italian-American neighborhood, there are signs of passion across the setting. The flower boxes in the windows and an Italian flag spread out across the landing of a fire escape are a couple examples. Nonetheless, the Italian immigrant grandmothers calling their grandchildren to dinner along the street manages to humanize the gritty and urban environment.

Jerry Zaks was the credited director and Robert Di Niro was the co-director of the show. The part of the young Calogero Lorenzo Alfredo Romano Anello is played by Hudson Loverro. Nick Cordero played the part of Sonny LoSpecchio, who is the local neighborhood crime boss. Richard H. Blake played the part of Calogero’s father Lorenzo. Other characters in the play include JoJo the Whale, Eddie Mush, and Crazy Mario.

The storyline follows the young Calogero who grew up in the heavily Italian-American populated Fordham section of the Bronx. He was the son of Lorenzo, a humble and honest bus driver and a homemaker mother. Calogero becomes captivated by Sonny and his local criminal empire. The child refuses to pick Sonny out of a police line-up after seeing him kill a rival, in front of the boy’s home. Then, the gangster brings Calogero into his social circle and begins to mentor him. reported that actor Palminteri, who played Sonny in the 1993 film, confirmed that he saw the real-life Sonny kill his victim right in front of his building. The real-life crime scene occurred on East 187th Street, near Cambreleng Avenue.

Palminteri was never told why the murder happened. However, the actor said that it was not because of a parking dispute, as the film and play displayed. He stated that his father, Lorenzo, believed that it was over money or a debt. Even though the actor was never told the real reason, he does not know what else could have been the motive.

De Niro directed the film based on the play about Palminteri’s early years, which he spent in the chaotic borough during a turbulent decade, as one of the many forms of his epic life story. Di Nero played Lorenzo and Palminteri played Sonny. Palminteri adapted the film from his successful one-man play that was produced in 1989. The play has taken him to over 30 cities. During his childhood, the actor was known as “Calogero” to family and friends but Sonny and his associates called him “C.”

IMDb stated that the film adaptation of “A Bronx Tale” was written by Palminteri and based on his play by the same name. The movie featured Lilo Brancato as Calogero (age 17), Francis Capra as Calogero (age 9). Taral Hicks performed as Jane, who is Calogero’s love interest, and Joe Pesci played Carmine. The 1993 version was the film adaptation of Palminteri’s epic life story.

By John A. Federico
Edited by Jeanette Smith


Vulture: Theater Review: A Bronx Tale Gets Up and Starts to Sing
Variety: Broadway Review: ‘A Bronx Tale,’ The Musical All that Chazz The creator of the hit one-man show ‘A Bronx Tale’ goes back to the neighborhood where everything began
IMDb: A Bronx Tale (1993)

Image Courtesy of carfull…home in Mongolia’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

2 Responses to "Chazz Palminteri and the Many Forms of His Epic Life Story"

  1. Olin Sarjeant   March 12, 2019 at 12:33 am

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  2. story   December 7, 2016 at 4:05 am

    Beowulf Boritt designed the wrought-iron fire escapes, a signature of the Bronx, in the style of Louis Sullivan.


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