Tuesday, September 13, 2016


You know his name (or like, you’ve at least been to the airport named after him…) His name’s LaGuardia, L-A-G-U-A-R-D-I-A! And if you have no clue who this is,  change it! and make your way to the Berkshire Theatre and see Fiorello. This classical musical takes you back to the 1920’s in the prime of election season, providing a glimpse of political corruption and women’s rights at an all time low. (Wait, is this 2016?) Fiorello takes you on the life journey of New York City’s mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia, and how he came to power. We get a glimpse of political corruption, and woman’s suffrage.

Seeing that we are in the prime of election season, it seems all too fitting that this show is up, and we, by default, are comparing it to the issues today. The show opens on women striking for better pay, and just about one minute into to the show, a woman is arrested for “soliciting” when she was protesting peacefully. (Again, a “period piece”) . This gives way to introduce LaGuardia, the little flower, who fights for New York. We see his passion in the love he has for this city and his fight to make the world a better place.

Throughout the performance, we somehow glaze over hard issues, and are distracted by musical numbers, such as “Politics and Poker” where we see a group of men searching for their next representative. Led by Rylan Morsbach playing Ben, LaGuardia’s political partner; he manages to find the comedy in the corruptness, and honestly was a highlight of the show.

The show itself lacks a narrative arc; I cant shake the fact that we simply glaze over so many important issues. One issue being the love story of Dora, a hardworking woman who was on strike, falling in love with a cop! Chelsea Cree Groen gives an amazing performance, especially in her big number, “I love a cop”, but I just wanted more. We get a small glimpse as her cop husband holds a party and witness a plan to hurt LaGuardia during his big speech. Does the cop do anything? Nope. Do we see a failing out between them? Nah. Just glaze over the dirtiness and move on. Much like today.

The cast is made up of mostly young actors who are making their debut. You can feel the energy bounce off them, which was refreshing, but that can’t save a script. Austin Scott Lombardi (LaGuardia) did a fine job bringing such a large political character to life, and I found myself rooting for him the entire time. Matt McLean (Miles) plays the right hand man to perfection, and has such a charm to him that I think I might have fallen in love. Rebecca Brudner (Thea) will break your heart in the most beautiful way. And Katie Birenboim (Marie) will relate to every person who has just wanted to find love and fight for it!

In the end, Fiorello is a nice musical that has beautiful choreography and catchy songs, but at the end of the day make you question if we are actually doing anything to make our world a better place. Maybe, that was the point of a lack of narrative arc, or maybe this is just another millennial complaining.

Review: Briana Burnside
Photos: Emma Rothenberg-Ware

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