LaGuardia Musical Coming to Midtown

By Mathew Katz on January 14, 2013 8:01am 

MIDTOWN — Forget the mayoral race, get ready for the musical.

Fiorello!, the musical about Mayor Fiorello Laguardia's rise to power, will return to the New York City Center theater in Midtown on Jan. 30th as part of the Encores! musical festival.

Chronicling the historical figure's immigrant upbringing, election to congressman and eventually mayor, the performance will run seven shows. The musical has a particular focus on LaGuardia's crusade against the Tammany Hall political machine.

By telling LaGuardia's story, organizers behind the show hope it teaches younger generations that LaGuardia is more than just an airport. 

"It’s really about a crusading politician who is really focused on serving the people’s needs and throwing out the corrupt political machine of the day," said Viertel, the artistic director of Encores!

He added that the show may echo with modern-day New York audiences as they head into election season.

"[LaGuardia] seems very heroic in the face of today's politics," Viertel said.

"It will resonate with people who want politicians who actually serve their interests — it's much harder to find them now."

The show will kick off the Encores! musical festival for its 20th anniversary season. The event is dedicated to performing rare and lesser-known musicals that don't often get the spotlight among flashier Broadway productions. It debuted with Fiorello! back in 1994,

Actor Danny Rutigliano will play LaGuardia, with Kate Baldwin as the union organizer he falls in love with and Shuler Hensley as Republican District Leader Ben Marino. The show is directed by Gary Griffin

The musical made its Broadway debut in 1959, and won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1960, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama that same year. 

LaGuardia, often called "the Little Flower," also had a connection to the City Center theater — he helped save it from demolition and turned it into Manhattan's first performing arts center in 1943. The theater completed a huge renovation last year.

Viertel himself also has a personal connection to LaGuardia — the mayor married the artistic director's parents at the 1939 World's Fair.

"It's just so much fun to revisit these things," he said.

"It's a beautifully crafted, classical musical."

Fiorello! runs from Jan. 30 to Feb. 3 at New York City Center, 131 W. 55th St. Tickets are available at the box office, through CityTix at 212-581-1212, and online.

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