Bobby Conte Thornton Knows He’s One Lucky Guy!
By Sandi Durell
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with the star of A Bronx Tale, Bobby Conte Thornton who plays the pivotal role of Calogero. It’s based on the life story of Chazz Palminteri (who wrote the original film and the book for Broadway), and also starred in the 1993 crime film with Robert De Niro, making his directorial debut at that time.
When Thornton auditioned for and got the role singing “Earth Angel,” it was one lucky break for which he is extremely grateful. Bobby only graduated from the University of Michigan in June 2015!
And, no, he doesn’t speak like a Bronx-ite but after listening to his beloved Papi (grandfather Anthony, who grew up in Queens and grandmother from the Bronx) all his life, it was easy enough to imitate.
Bobby has been working since the age of 17 in regional theater where one show begot another and another. You’ll hear much more about the shows in which he performed, about his pharmacist grandfather Papi who has an entertainer’s heart and reminds Bobby of Chazz, and the special concoction Papi whipped up for Bobby.
As for role models and mentors, he looks to Steven Pasquale, Anthony Warlow, Robert De Niro (oh, those Raging Bull fights!) and, especially Chazz for guidance.
Bobby and the cast recently recorded the original cast album on Ghostlight Records, the digital format available now at the Longacre Theatre and online; the CD to be released in stores and online on Friday May 12th with a special in-store signing and performance at Barnes & Noble (http://www.sh-k-boom.com/a-bronx-tale)
What does Bobby love doing when he’s not on stage? Play baseball with the Broadway League Softball Team! What a thrill playing shortstop and center field on the first pre-season day of practice – something he hadn’t done since Little League. He’s really excited about that. He also plays tennis and boxes.
As for dream roles, Thornton would love to play Bobby in Company, the first Sondheim show he ever saw (the John Doyle production), and his inspiration to become an actor.
If he wasn’t an actor Bobby Conte Thornton says he’d probably be a therapist. . . he’s fascinated why people do what they do. And if that didn’t work, well, he could be a tennis player!
The luck that has befallen Thornton is front and center as he speaks about it constantly. “It’s not lost on me. . . I’ve skipped a lot of rounds on the totem pole of career . . . a 24 year old to lead a Broadway show and not be famous, and that show was a hit . . . is quite a thrill. Knowing I’ve been handed this blessing and gift, it’s my job not to waste that. . .”
Video Interview: Sandi Durell
MR Anderson on Camera