Long Island City, NY—May 1, 2015—The Little Flower came home to LaGuardia Community College.
Actor Tony Lo Bianco brought “The Little Flower,” his one man play about the late New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, to the college that bears LaGuardia’s name this 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 the first World War 1 and as a US Congressman before his 1934 election to the first of three terms as the city’s 99th Mayor.
The play is set on the last day of LaGuardia’s third term in office. Fiorello means Little Flower in Italian.
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 LaGuardia,” said LaGuardia President Dr. Gail O. Mellow. “Mayor LaGuardia 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 LaGuardia 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 LaGuardia’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 “The French Connection” movie, the “Police Story” television show 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 LaGuardia’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 LaGuardia. 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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LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit www.laguardia.edu to learn more.