Joe Barbara as Sonny and Frankie Leoni as The Kid in "A Bronx Tale   The Musical" at the Boston Opera House in April
Joe Barbara as Sonny and Frankie Leoni as The Kid in "A Bronx Tale The Musical" at the Boston Opera House in April

Joe Barbara is a nice guy, polite, down-to-earth and friendly. But he knows how to play it cool, too, and how to instill a little fear in those around him.

He does it every night in his leading role as Sonny in A Bronx Tale The Musical, the hit Broadway musical that plays the Boston Opera House on April 2-14.

Sonny s the man everyone looks up to him, Barbara said by phone last week from Chicago. He s untouchable. And it s fun to play him, to walk on stage and be cool. But he s got this vulnerable side, too, especially when he runs into this kid who doesn t turn him in. The kid becomes the best part of Sonny.

The streetwise musical takes the audience to the stoops of the Bronx, where a young man is caught between the father he loves and the mob boss he d love to be.

The show s pedigree is impressive. It features a book by Academy Award nominee Chazz Palminteri, who first created A Bronx Tale as a one-man show and then starred as Sonny in the film version, which Robert DeNiro brought to the screen and directed in 1993. Oscar, Tony and Grammy winner Alan Menken composed the score, and Oscar and Tony nominee Glenn Slater wrote the lyrics. And DeNiro is still part of the project, co-directing it with multi- Tony-winner Jerry Zaks. Barbara has been with the show since 2015, when it had its pre-Broadway premiere at New Jersey s Paper Mill Playhouse. Working with DeNiro and Palminteri is a thrill, said Barbara, who got his start acting in Tony n Tina s Wedding, worked on the soaps Another World and All My Children, and has done Grease, Jersey Boys and Beauty and the Beast.


DeNiro is very detail-oriented, Barbara said. He cares about the haircut, the way you wear your tie. He s so focused on every little thing and what makes it authentic. And he was the link that brought Chazz s one-man show to the screen.

Barbara considers Palminteri a good friend and thanks him for his friendship and support.

Playing Boston will be a treat, he said, because his wife and three sons will visit from New Jersey.

And DeNiro and Palminteri will be there, too, coming to town for a reception on April 10 before that evening s performance as a benefit for DeNiro s Tribeca Film Institute.

Tickets for A Bronx Tale The Musical start at $44.50 and are available at 800-982-2787 or visit

Nancye Tuttle s email address is nancyedt@


The wait is over

Balefire Productions presents “Waiting for Godot,” Samuel Beckett's allegorical play about two hapless tramps waiting for someone who never shows up. Performances are Friday-Sunday, March 2224, at 6 p.m., at Gallery Z, 167 Market St., Lowell; $34 includes a three-course dinner; https://square

Free tickets

Huntington Theatre Company is offering free tickets to patrons 25 and younger for all performances of “Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet” through March 31. Tickets are available two hours before curtain at the Huntington Avenue Theatre box office, 264 Huntington Ave., Boston. Bring student ID or other age verification; one ticket per ID; www.hunt for info.

Season announcement

Cannon Theatre in Littleton recently announced its 10th Anniversary Season for 2019-2020, including a mystery dinner theater at Concord's Colonial Inn, “How the Other Half Loves,” “A Christmas Carol Radio Show,” “Matilda,” “The Glass Menagerie,” “Willie Wonka” and a 10-Minute Play Festival. Visit or call 978-760-3397.