Ones to Watch: Bobby Conte Thornton
If you haven’t made your way to the Longacre Theatre to see Broadway’s latest hit, you’re missing out on impeccable music and a heartwarming narrative inspired by writer Chazz Palminteri’s childhood. The newest iteration of Palminteri’s story has introduced audiences to a bunch of fresh faces, one of them being 24 year-old Bobby Conte Thornton. Not only is he making his Broadway debut, but he’s making it by starring as leading man Calogero Anello (aka Palminteri himself). With a debonair confidence and impressive vocals, Bobby’s performance in A Bronx Tale is one I can’t get enough of.
Although this is Bobby’s first stint on The Great White Way, theatre fans may recognize him from his extensive regional and New York credits. The University of Michigan alumnus has starred in classics such as My Fair Lady at Bay Street Theatre, Les Misérables at The MUNY and Grease at Paper Mill Playhouse. There must be something in the water at UMich because other notable alumni include theatre favorites Darren Criss, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, Celia Keenan-Bolger and Bobby’s A Bronx Tale co-star Cary Tedder. Go Blue?
It’s inevitable to compare Bobby’s performance in the musical to Lillo Brancato, Jr’s portrayal in the film. While Bobby successfully emulates the loyal and desperate need to make local mob boss Sonny proud, he brings a new sense of vulnerability to the stage. Although Calogero’s “tough guy” attitude is by no means just a facade, it often overshadows the fact that he’s senstive to his own struggle of discovering his full potential. Bobby is preeminent in representing Calogero’s conflicting desires and attitudes towards himself as a young man.
As this Broadway season continues to deliver spectacular new stories, it’s much too early to call what musicals will be nominated this award season but I’m confident we’ll be seeing Bobby and the A Bronx Tale company on the Tony Award stage on June 11th.
Current project: A Bronx Tale
Projects we’d like to see him in: Although A Bronx Tale delves into the dark reality of racial tension and violence, there are a few moments of comedic relief that Bobby excels in. We’re curious as to whether his versatility and effortless delivery would translate behind a camera. Also…does anyone else think he’d be a great Tony in a West Side Story revival? I can’t help but think of The Jets when watching Calogero and his crew on the Belmont Avenue stoop.
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus