The roster of musicals devoted to mayors remains vanishingly small; you’ll have to keep waiting for “Bloomberg!” or “The Hon. Richard M. Daley!” Despite a dashing score by “Fiddler on the Roof” team Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, “Fiorello!” ends up demonstrating why such shows stay rare. “Fiorello!” opens strong, as the young Little Flower embarks on a Capraesque crusade to help striking Triangle Shirtwaist workers. But before long the story settles into the murk of political compromise. In 1959, LaGuardia’s pleas that his anti-World War I constituents didn’t understand the issues as deeply as he did might have been taken in stride; nowadays, such loftiness has a more bitter ring, though LaGuardia’s willingness to back up his position by enlisting himself makes for an unflattering comparison with today’s Fighting Keyboarders. Throughout, Fiorello remains an enigmatic blend of idealism and driving ambition, while an overstuffed plot leaves the play’s focus diffuse. Timeline’s revival is spirited, featuring a veritable onslaught of tune-belting. PJ Powers’ Fiorello, a blur of human motion, bears a strong and strange resemblance to Gilbert Gottfried, with a grating voice and relentlessly puckish manner. A generally strong supporting cast, including Michael Kingston as Fiorello’s sad-sack assistant and Rebecca Finnegan as the long-suffering Marie, can’t overcome the sense that “Fiorello!” is one for the archives. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.