FIORELLO! Off-Broadway

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The Berkshire Theater Group’s production of FIORELLO!. Photo by Emma Rothenberg-Ware.

**

I love Bock & Harnick’s score to FIORELLO!, the musical about how Fiorello LaGuardia became Mayor of New York.  Set in 1919-1934, the book by Jerome Weidman and George Abbott was written in 1959 with a 1959 mentality, both good and bad.  The idea that politics is just a “song and dance” is such a breath of fresh air given the current nasty political climate, however the dated female tropes of being helpless and emotionally desperate are painful to watch, even in a period setting.

The Berkshire Theater Group has transferred their production of FIORELLO! to the East 13th Street Theater (better known as the home of Classic Stage Company).  The cast is very young.  The show feels like a college production.  The voices are untrained, the acting is uneven, the dialects are a rollercoaster of awkward sounds.  There are some gems; Dan Cassin and Chelsea Cree Groen are adorable as Floyd and Dora, Bob Moss‘ direction is smart and sophisticated, and the concise Set design packs all of the essentials.  Austin Scott Lombardi gives a credible performance as LaGuardia, a role that should be charm personified.  I am afraid this production is only for the die-hard fans of the musical.

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