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A Bronx Tale Dazzles at DPAC

Alec Nevin (left) and Trey Murphy star as Calogero and Young C (photo by Joan Marcus)

Based on both the 1993 film of the same name that marked Robert DeNiro’s directorial debut and the one-man show that inspired it all, DPAC’s production of A Bronx Tale effectively brings to life a story that is at times frightening, often touching, and above all, incredibly honest and real.

The show opens with its aptly-named “Belmont Avenue” number, which clearly places the time (the 1960s), place, and overall atmosphere of the world in which it is set. The audience is quickly introduced to young Calogero, portrayed by just-as-young Trey Murphy, a child actor who brings great charisma and likeability, as well as a powerhouse voice, to the role.

From his New York front stoop, Calogero witnesses a mafia boss, Sonny (Jeff Brooks) kill a man. And, when the young boy chooses to keep his mouth shut, he enters into a world in which he is befriended by this powerful, trust-no-one criminal, striking up a friendship that, against the wishes of Calogero’s father, Lorenzo (Nick Fradiani), will span over the next eight years and ultimately leave a lasting impact.

And, while it may sound odd given that Sonny’s first onstage act is a murder, Sonny proves to be one of the most endearing characters in this production, due largely to Brooks’ multi-layered characterization. Sonny is every bit as intimidating and, at times, downright scary as the script calls for him to be. However, Chazz Palminteri’s rich script and Brooks’ heartfelt portrayal make Sonny out to be a real, dimensional person, one with a heart and the best intentions he can understand lurking underneath it all.

Alec Nevin and Kayla Jenerson star as Calogero and Jane in A Bronx Tale (photo by Joan Marcus)

All too quickly, Calogero turns into an older version of himself, portrayed to sweet-hearted, blissfully-naive perfection by handsome, chiseled Alec Nevin. This Calogero, nicknamed simply “C” by his beloved Sonny, is just starting to question the world around him, as well as the confines and limitations of it that he cannot understand or abide by. In turn, he meets and falls for the beautiful Jane (Kayla Jenerson), who, problematically in his world, is black.

The two actors share amazing chemistry, especially during their rendering of the “Out of Your Head” number, which features effective use of spotlighting and really shines a literal and figurative light on Jenerson’s incredible vocal skills, which remain impressive throughout this fast-paced, non-stop-action-filled piece.

Their chemistry, however, rivals the amazingly real relationships evidenced between C and his father and, most of all, between C and Sonny. While Fradiani’s Lorenzo is sympathetic, understandable, and altogether loveable, especially as explained in the beautiful “Look to Your Heart” ballad, powerfully delivered by Stefanie Londino as Rosina, C’s mother, nothing quite rivals the intensity and authenticity with which Nevin’s “C” looks up to his Sonny.

In fact, it is these male relationships that are at the heart of this touching musical. A coming of age tale about male identity, male relationships, and the role models we create for ourselves- as well as the difficulty of realizing their faults- A Bronx Tale is a show that fills an important gap for the oft-overlooked male theatergoer but that is also one that any viewer can relate to. Completed by stellar choreography and a colorful, lively ensemble cast, this production is one of the best and most authentic to grace the DPAC stage in recent history. Fans of the film and newcomers to the story alike are sure to delight in the sheer honesty and heartfelt truth of this powerful production.

A Bronx Tale stars Trey Murphy (second from right) as Young C (photo by Joan Marcus)

The Durham Performing Arts Center presents A BRONX TALE: THE MUSICAL at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 6 and 7, 8 p.m. Nov. 8, 2 and 8 p.m. Nov. 9, and 1 and 7 p.m. Nov. 10 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.

TICKETS: $27.50-$157.50, plus taxes and fees. Click here to enter the digital lottery for $30 tickets.


DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787),, or

Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or

GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919/281-0587,, or

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NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9th, performance. Guests with a disabilities can find more information by clicking DPAC’s accessibility page.


Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click To read more of her writings, click,, and

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews