Seven Questions About A Bronx Tale, Italian Moms, & More with Lucia Giannetta
As Rosina, Lucia Giannetta is the Italian mom of your dreams and the one that got away in the hit new musical A Bronx Tale. Rosina is the strong, loving mother of the show's protagonist Calogero and the great former love of Belmont Avenue crime boss Sonny.
BroadwayBox caught up with the Les Miserables and Leap of Faith alum to talk about her A Bronx Tale love triangle, Alan Menken memories, and how Janis Joplin changed her career path. .
1. What’s the most interesting thing Chazz Palminteri told you that has informed your performance of Rosina?
First, I have to say I just adore Chazz and his entire family. From the first reading of A Bronx Tale, he was so open and present. So generous. He is such an integral part of the entire creative process and he really fostered the Bronx Family we now have at the Longacre. Soon after we started rehearsal, Chazz had the entire cast, families included, over to his house for a homemade Italian Sunday dinner. It was awesome. Alan (Menken) was there and he played through his amazing catalogue as we all sang around the piano, and one of the coolest parts was watching my daughter sing “Part Of Your World” in awe with the rest of my cast. Family. Chazz shared many stories with us throughout rehearsal and Tech. One thing was very clear, family is everything. It’s tough to pull out one thing that Chazz said because it wasn’t just what he said, it’s who he is that helped us bring the Annello Family to life. I’m so very sad to share that very recently Rosina, Chazz’s mom, passed away. When I heard the news I remembered something Chazz had told me about his mom. He said she was a great dancer. That she and his dad, Lorenzo, would go out dancing all the time. That sometimes they would just stop, anywhere, hug and dance. I loved that. It’s has been such an honor to portray Rosina each night in A Bronx Tale, and now since her passing, it’s a little different. It seems just a bit more important for me to be telling her story.
2. I love that the musical hints at this Rosina/Sonny/Lorenzo love triangle. How do you imagine it all went down between the three of them?
I love it too! It’s often one of the first things folks ask me at the stage door. So here’s the scoop—Sonny and Lorenzo were both madly in love with Rosina (I mean who wouldn’t be) and there was a fight, a fight to the death—because they just HAD to have her!! JK =) What I think happened is that Sonny asked Rosina out and maybe they dated a bit, but she wasn’t too keen on him being a gangsta. Meanwhile, Lorenzo caught her eye, I mean he really rocks that bus driver uniform, and well…the rest is history.
3. Who’s your favorite Italian mom from TV or film?
I just love Edie Falco. She’s an amazing actress and her in the role of Carmela Soprano is EVERYTHING. I mean c’mon! I also really loved Olympia Dukakis in Moon Struck. I love that these women run the emotional gamut in 5 minutes or less. Their characters can be loving you one second and giving you the back of their hand in the next and all the while making some meatballs and gravy (red sauce).
4. Every Italian mom has that one signature dish that her family is always clamouring for. What’s yours?
My mom’s meatballs and gravy are the bomb! When I was a kid I lived in a three-family house in Massachusetts. My maternal grandparents on the first floor, my aunt, uncle, & cousins on the second, and me, my mom, & dad on the third. Every Sunday the entire house smelled like gravy. I’d stop on each floor and get a little taste on my way upstairs. All of them tasting identical because they were all using my grandmother “Mamma’s” recipe. It is still a tradition for me to take vats of meat and gravy back to NY after a visit home. I probably wouldn’t have as many friends if I didn’t.
5. There’s a lot of Menken on your resume (including readings and workshops). What speaks to you about his music?
I have had the pleasure of working with Alan Menken for a good portion of my career. One of my favorite moments was sharing the stage with Alan during his Songbook Series Performance at Lincoln Center. I was one of three “Menkenettes” and on top of singing background on his incredible catalogue of songs I had the amazing privilege of singing “Suddenly Seymour” with him. Which is still, to this day, one of the highlights of my career. When he looked up from the piano and sang, “Lift up your head; wash off your mascara,” I almost passed out!
What speaks to me about his music? Everything. His music evokes such honest emotion in me. I am completely lost in it. And it’s everywhere and a part of everything. I still find myself saying, “Oh my God, Alan wrote that too!” When I first started working on A Bronx Tale, Rosina didn’t have a song. During one of the later readings our Music Supervisor, Ron Melrose, called me in for a rehearsal. I figured I had some new lines here or there added to the score. When I got there he said, “Rosina has a new song, 'Look To Your Heart Reprise', and Alan has asked me to key it to your voice.” I tell you, I almost had to excuse myself. Alan asked him to key it to MY voice! And the song, it’s so honest and beautiful. I could barely make it out of Ripley Grier without calling my friend to sing it to her in the middle of 8th Avenue. Alan is a very genuine, enthusiastic and generous person and for me all of that comes across in his music.
6. What’s your favorite memory from your time with Broadway Inspirational Voices?
I have too many to choose from! Michael McElroy has afforded me such amazing opportunities. My favorite?....well I’m stuck with choosing between singing for former President Barack Obama or for Pope Francis’ visit to NY! See I told you it was tough! The thing with BIV is that even rehearsals with my BIV family make for amazing memories. I am surrounded by incredible Broadway talent, singing about gratitude, hope, and praise. When I was asked to join back in 2001 it was as if I’d booked my first Broadway show, and I feel that excitement every time I have the opportunity to perform with Michael McElroy and Broadway Inspirational Voices.
7. You also have this whole rocker side of you. Who was the female rocker that inspired you when you were young?
Whew! This one is easy! JANIS JOPLIN JANIS JOPLIN JANIS JOPLIN!!! I had just graduated from Boston University School for the Arts with a Vocal Performance Degree in Opera. I moved to NY, and sometime in between graduation and moving into my NYC apartment I discovered Janis Joplin. Well, that was it! She sang from the bottom of her feet to the top of her head. And I wanted that. All of that freedom and power. She sang as if she felt every syllable that came out of her mouth her way. I fell in love. Quit Opera, joined a hard rock band, got a record deal, cut an album, and about 5 years later found myself back in the theater. I still love sitting in with my husband Barry’s band BOD after I finish Bronx and belting out a number or two. It’s still a thrilling experience for me.
Don't miss Lucia Giannetta in A Bronx Tale at Broadway's Longacre Theatre.