San Francisco's 42nd Street Moon theater company is revisiting a golden age classic this month. Fiorello! tells the story of an Italian lawyer, then Congressman, who connects with the vibrant immigrant community as mayor of New York City in the 1930s and 40s.
He also learns to love the woman who sticks by him throughout his political career as he suffers heartbreaking personal setbacks, including the death of his wife.
Broadway musicals of past eras often struggle with gender stereotypes, and this one is no different. The show has its share of dumb blondes, and even the mayor's loyal aide, though trod upon, shows a little too much fortitude, waiting for her guy to come around. But the musical's bucketfuls of great tunes and big heart eventually overcome the embedded sexism, and deliver a satisfying evening of theater.
As Fiorello LaGuardia, Colin Thomson approaches his role with an unvarying operatic pitch. He practically sings his dialogue, except for a small moment of doubt. For me, Thomson's approach could have been varied a bit. He could have learned something from his costar, Katrina Lauren McGraw, whose Marie is much more fully realized.
The show's earworms include the wonderful "Politics and Poker" and Marie's tender ballad "I'll Marry the Very Next Man." Luckily for Mayor LaGuardia, that's him.
(Image: Colin Thomson as Fiorello! Credit: Ben Krantz Studio)