POST: 'Fiorello!' - I didn't know we had a mayor named LaGuardia...

What's it about?

Fiorello follows the story of mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and his triumphs as New York's mayor.

What'd I experience?

I'm going to go ahead and admit my ignorance here - I had no clue who this guy was.

I thought his last name was Fiorello, so when I learned that it was actually LaGuardia, it just raised even more questions. I didn't know that we had a mayor named LaGuardia at some point. I just assumed that the airport was named by some rich dude who helped fund it or something. Now I'm over here learning that it was actually one of our greatest mayors, and that I'm watching a revival of a show from the 1960's... I should really do more research going into these things.

Anyway, once the initial shock settled of where I was and what the hell I was watching, I relaxed and was actually kind of excited. Not just because I saw that an Artichoke Pizza was around the corner on my way in, but because I was actually going to learn something out of this whole ordeal. Food and learning, two of life's greatest treasures.

Actually, what I was really excited to see was how the life of a mayor would become a musical. To get an idea of what I might be in store for I kept scanning the playbill, and it turns out the show was set in the 1920's-1930's. All I was able to get out of that was that World War I was probably going to come into play, and that the music was going to be very ragtimey and swingy. Yeah, ok, it's not a lot to go on, but like I said - I admit to my ignorance. 

Despite my knowledge of that era being rather limited, aside from a few hazy memories from U.S History classes, I will admit that I'm a fan of the era. Aside from all that Great Depression, Prohibition, blatant racism, and overall kind of shitty quality of life - the times were pretty cool. You had the Mafia going on, one of the world's deadliest wars, and plenty of corruption in both politics and the police force. Soooooo those are all pretty bad topics, but you have to admit they are also really interesting. Plus everyone dressed real snazzy, and it's really the only period of time where the word snazzy feels right to use. Even with the simple set pieces and backdrops I really got that 20's vibe, and all the snazzy costumes helped push that vibe even further. All of that backed with the very classic sounding score made me feel like I was sitting in the middle of the street in 1920's New York. It kind of makes me wonder why we ever stopped dressing like that, like why the whole snazzy phase fazed out of existence. Capes and mantles too, I know that's a completely different period but we should bring those back. 

The story was inspiring to me, or rather Fiorello himself. This man did a lot in his life - going from a successful lawyer to a soldier to a long-running mayor of one of the biggest cities in the world. The story kind of fell on me, because I got a little caught up in the music and the feeling of the scenes. The show had a love triangle going on. I am usually not a big fan of that, but... I mean, I rarely get into the whole "oh who are they going to end up with" thing, except for a few shows and books. And, for the most part, I kind of tuned out that aspect of, but this one song, "When Did I Fall in Love?". I have to admit, it's hard to ignore a love story when there's music accompanying it.

This show had a very upbeat tone for what it was about. Usually I associate political stuff with drama and kind of dark times, but everyone was surprisingly happy throughout the show. Probably because of all the snazzy outfits.


Want to see it?

Fiorello!
Berkshire Theatre Group
@ The East 13th Street Theater
thru Oct. 7