Tony Lo Bianco Is His Honor, Mayor LaGuardia, in The Little Flower, Starting Oct. 23 in NYC
By Kenneth Jones
Tony Lo Bianco plays late, beloved New York City Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia in a new solo play The Little Flower, written and directed by the actor, in a brief Off-Broadway engagement that begins Oct. 23.
The work is adapted from the Paul Shyre play Hizzoner!, an earlier vehicle for Lo Bianco. Performances play The DiCapo Opera Theatre on East 76th Street between Lexington and Third. This is a strictly limited engagement to Nov. 2.
Lo Bianco returns to the role of Mayor La Guardia, which he first played in Shyre's Hizzoner! The actor won one of five local Daytime Emmy Awards for the WNET Public Television version of that play, filmed at The Egg - Empire State Institute for the Performing Arts in Albany, in 1984. MNA Productions, Inc. presents the new run.
In 1989, he returned to the role in a brief Broadway run of the play. "Since that time," according to production notes, "Lo Bianco has continued to work on developing both the character and material, presenting workshop versions in intimate performances nationally and internationally, including special performances in Moscow, Russia."
The play is set in the office of Fiorello H. La Guardia on his final day as a three-term Mayor of New York City in 1945. According to production notes, "The Little Flower presents a historic look into the life and career of the great statesman. A champion of the poor and underprivileged, La Guardia's voice resonated throughout America, and he became a father figure to millions that lived through the hard times of the 1930s and 40s. He transcended political party barriers, running as a Fusion Party Mayor, and held strong convictions on family values, inflation, women's suffrage, financial responsibility, education, unions, political corruption and prohibition. A courageous and flamboyant personality who cleaned up city politics and also made the time to read the comics on the radio to children during a newspaper strike, La Guardia set a new standard for American politics."
The life of the mayor also inspired the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Fiorello!, which will be revived in concert this season by the Encores! series at New York City Center.
Lo Bianco won an Obie Award for Best Actor for the Off-Broadway production of Jonathan Reynolds' Yanks-3, Detroit-0, Top of the 7th. On Broadway, his performance as Eddie in Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge earned him a Tony Award nomination and an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Actor. On film, he starred as Sal Boca in the Academy Award-winning film "The French Connection" opposite Gene Hackman, and as Ray Fernandez in the cult classic "The Honeymoon Killers." His films include "The Seven-Ups," "Bloodbrothers," "F.I.S.T.," "City Heat," "Nixon," "The Juror" and more.
A former Golden Gloves boxer, he starred as fighter Rocky Marciano in 1979's "Marciano," and also appeared in the 1999 remake, "Rocky Marciano," with Jon Favreau and George C. Scott. He starred in Franco Zeffirelli's 1977 mini-series "Jesus of Nazareth" with Robert Powell and Laurence Olivier, the 1982 miniseries "Marco Polo," and "La Romana" with Gina Lollobrigida, for which he earned the Festival International Canne Fipe D'Or Best Actor Award in 1989. He also played recurring roles on "Police Story" and "Homicide."
Lo Bianco co-founded the Triangle Theater in 1963. He served as the theatre's artistic director for six years, directing eight productions and producing 25 others.
The Little Flower has set design by Henry Millman, costume design by Academy Award winner Patrizia Von Brandenstein, and lighting design by Paul Jones.
Performances play Oct. 23-Nov. 2 on the following schedule: Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 8 PM (Opening Night); Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 2 PM and 8 PM; Thursday, Oct. 25 at 8 PM; Friday, Oct. 24 at 8 PM; Saturday, Oct. 27 at 3 PM and 8 PM; Sunday, Oct. 28 at 4 PM; Monday, Oct. 29 at 8 PM; Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 8 PM; Wednesday, Oct. 31 (Dark); Thursday, Nov. 1 at 2 PM; Friday, Nov. 2 at 8 PM.
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