With the Congressional approval rating at an all-time low, it's seems impossible to hear the words "inspiring" and "politician" in the same sentence. However, if you add the name Fiorello La Guardia to the mix you'll get just that. The final required ingredient necessary to tell the story is actor-director Tony Lo Bianco, who stars in Little Flower, a one man show about the life and times of the colorful three-time mayor of New York City.
The word "fiorello" means "little flower" in Italian and although only 5 feet tall, La Guardia was a larger than life character who had an enormous impact on New York, and according to Lo Bianco, should be a role model for today's politicians. "I looked at footage on La Guardia and saw that he really wanted to do the right thing for the public," said Lo Bianco. "He cut his salary in half during tough times and wasn't afraid to speak his mind. He also understood that when you do the right thing you're not going to satisfy everybody."
La Guardia was a Republican but he productively crossed party lines to work successfully with then president Franklin Delano Roosevelt and made New York a model for New Deal Welfare and Public Works projects. Despite these accomplishments, La Guardia was anything but a typical new deal democrat. He was the first Republican mayor elected in 136 years and he was a staunch reformer who was not afraid to speak his mind and made dramatic changes to New York both politically and economically.
La Guardia strove to achieve something that no politician seems interested in doing -- to create bipartisanship. Lo Bianco is also someone who is not afraid to say what's on his mind: "The play deals with common sense and logic, which seems to have disappeared from politics today. We have to go past the sound bites and speak to the people."
Lo Bianco described La Guardia's personality as "enthusiastic and entertaining" and that's a fitting description of Little Flower.
"Little Flower" is performed at the Di Capo Opera. 184 East 76th St., NYC.