2015-05-06 / Features

Lo Bianco Brings The Little Flower To LAGCC

Actor Tony Lo Bianco brought The Little Flower, his one-man play about the late New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, home to the college that bears La Guardia’s name last week with a mesmerizing performance in the school’s Little Theater.

Lo Bianco reprised the lead role in the play he wrote, directed and has performed on Broadway, and around the world, since 1984, tracing the three-term mayor’s rise from his birth on Manhattan’s East Side, his service as a pilot during World War I and as a US Congressman before his 1934 election to the first of three terms as the city’s 99th Mayor.

The Little Flower, which is a reference to La Guardia’s first name, Fiorello, which means “little flower” in Italian, is set on the last day of LaGuardia’s third term in office.

LaGuardia Community College Foundation President Suresh Sani and Foundation Board Member Peter L. DiCapua, a friend of Lo Bianco, who was instrumental in bringing the play to the school, were on hand for the performance. DiCapua and Foundation supporter Robert B. Catell provided funding for the production.

“We are fortunate to have Tony Lo Bianco bringing to life the vision and power of our namesake, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia,” said LaGuardia President Dr. Gail O. Mellow. “Mayor La Guardia was one of our city’s greatest mayors and his legacy reminds us of the power of government to improve the lives of all New Yorkers. Many thanks to our great friend and supporter, Peter L. DiCapua, for bringing Tony to our stage.”

“It’s a great opportunity for students to understand the history of the man behind the name of the school,” Sani said. “I am so looking forward to learning more about Mayor La Guardia because he’s an icon in the city and very important to where the city is today.”

DiCapua said he was playing golf with Lo Bianco when the actor told him he was reprising his Little Flower show.

“It was a no-brainer” to bring it to the college, DiCapua said.

“I told him I was involved with LaGuardia Community College, which also hosts the largest archive of Mayor La Guardia’s effects,” DiCapua said. “He and I and his manager talked about it for months. He needed a bit of funding, I got some people to help and we made it happen.”

The Brooklyn-born Lo Bianco has had an extensive film and stage career, including roles in the movie, The French Connection, the TV show, Police Story, and on stage in Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge.

The Little Theater audience sat spellbound throughout Lo Bianco’s performance, hanging onto his every word as he stalked about the set reprising La Guardia’s life story.

During a question and answer session after the play Lo Bianco said he learned the considerable dialogue “the same way you get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice.”

Lo Bianco said he did extensive research for the role, reading every book he could find on La Guardia. He also changes the script periodically to make it more relevant to the audience.

“What happened in 1934 to 1945 parallels what is going on in our country as we speak and the lessons we don’t seem to learn from history, and that is truly unfortunate,” Lo Bianco said. “There are no new problems.

“I’m always challenging the audience,” Lo Bianco said. “When they think I’m talking about someone else, I want them to know I’m talking about you.”


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