Washington DC is getting a taste of the Bronx in the 1960s, with doo-wop tunes, bursting choreography, tough guys and accents – A Bronx Tale: The Musical will be at DC’s National Theatre, March 26-31. Based on the story by Chazz Palminteri, this Robert De Niro and Jerry Zak’s directed musical follows the main character, Calogero Anello, who gets caught up in the mafia world while attempting to cling to the family values of his loyal, honest and hardworking father. De Niro also acted in the 1993 film as the role of Calogero’s morally sound father, playing opposite of Palmineri’s bad-guy, mob-leader character, Sonny, making it one of the most well-known and favorite gangster-type movies of all time.
The School At Jacobs Pillow alumnus and Baltimore-native Antonio Beverly is making his national tour and National Theatre debut, playing the role of Tyrone, the brother of Calogero’s love interest. We chatted with him about the cast chemistry, working with Robert De Niro, relating to his character and more about the musical.
On Tap: What was it like working with Robert De Niro to prepare for the national tour?
Antonio Beverly: I love Robert de Niro. He’s in so many movies, and is such a sweetheart, one of the nicest and shyest people that you’ll ever meet, which goes with the territory. He was very involved with keeping the authenticity of the show, whether it was someone placing their on hat correctly or they way they throw their cigarette out, or smoke it – he was very hands-on with that.
OT: Tell us about your character Tyrone. Do you relate to him at all?
AB: Tyrone is Jane’s brother, and Jane is Calogero’s love interest. He doesn’t like the relationship they have because of his time that he spent in their neighborhood, which you’ll see in the show he isn’t do anything wrong, and he gets jumped, which is a reference from the movie, and why all that craziness starts. I drew from experience with this role. Given the day and age that we’re in, and talking to my family about how they grew up in a rough neighborhood, I’m a black gay man living in America, and we still face some of the same things. It’s a tough part to do every night because of the premise of the show, but because I have such a loving cast, they really get me through it.
OT: With so many different cliques of characters in the show, how would you describe the cast chemistry?
AB:It’s otherworldly. I say that because even with creators and the cast, we’re working with bunch of seasoned veterans and a lot of people who have gone and done things I can’t even imagine, even though they’re our cast members, they’re also our teachers. If you weren’t in the show with these people and didn’t take anything away from them, then you’re not really getting the full experience.
OT: Why might young adults in DC enjoy this production?
AB:The story is coming from the eyes of a young adult – he goes through his story from when he was a child, and through all these hardships. A lot of the time, young people’s perspectives aren’t primarily shown, and it’s usually told from an adult’s perspective. He has such a supportive family and has people he didn’t even consider his family, and even though a lot of hardships were there, the love was never lost. It’s important for young people to know that there are so many people around you that are willing to give you everything if you don’t want to close out. I think they’ll really appreciate it. It’s a young, fun show.
OT: What are your thoughts on the music, how do you think it will resonate with viewers?
AB:I absolutely love the music, it’s very doo-wop. If you’ve ever seen Jersey Boys or West Side Story, it literally is that. Alan Menken did the music, as well as some of your favorite Disney movies like The Little Mermaid. I think DC viewers will also love it just because of the area that it’s in. The DMV and Baltimore areas used to be where all the jazz clubs are – they know live music when they hear it.
OT: Do you have a favorite song, scene or moment to perform in A Bronx Tale?
AB:My first favorite number is the first one, the choreography is lit and there are big tumbling passes, it’s kind of a montage that really tells how everything started. Then another favorite number of mine is the bows because the African-Americans in this show, we do more of a social dance – stepping in the show. We don’t get to do anything technical, and the end is the first time we all get to dance together as a cast. It’s our first interaction with the audience, throughout the show, we’re portraying people but when we bow we’re really breaking that fourth wall.
See A Bronx Tale: The Musical at the National Theatre from Tuesday, March 26 to Sunday, March 31. Tickets and showtimes available at www.thenationaldc.org.
The National Theatre: 321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC