Italian Bred is a one-woman show currently wowing audiences at the Colony Theatre and everyone can enjoy this darling performance. Candice Guardino, was born and raised in Staten Island, NY, with her Italian grandmother, her mother, her father and her sister, and this is her story.
Guardino starts her play off by telling us about the forgotten borough she grew up in and what happens there. Once non-New Yorkers have a grasp of Staten Island, it is time for her to go back to her youth when tough as nails grandmother shows her how to make meatballs. Meanwhile her mother is so proper, she cannot handle the comparison of what it is like when you roll them to make them round. You know, balls!
Guardino’s older sister bullies her as most big sister’s do and her grandmother walks in on it. She does not like what her older granddaughter is doing to the younger one, so she take Guardino for a car ride. That trip will take them to the very long Verrazano Bridge and her grandmother hates driving across it. After mustering the courage, she puts the pedal to the medal and is ready for the journey. That is until someone cuts her off. She does what you would expect a true New York Italian woman to do. Gets out of the car and threatens the driver with a bat. Teaching Guardino another important lesson.
One lesson she didn’t pay attention to was the one when her mother taught her not to get in the car of a stranger. Granted this stranger is the ice cream man who uses a special herb to flavor his product. Guardino asks him if she can go for a ride with him and he begrudging says yes. As Guardino steps into the truck, her mother sees her do this. You know where this is going and none of it is good for the offspring. So bad, Guardino runs away. Eventually, the young girl returns home to a sweet one-on-one with her mom.
Guardino’s story does not only take place in Staten Island, sometimes her grandmother and her go into the city. On one trip, they go to the infamous toy store FAO Schwartz where she gets a safe. Then another time they go to Manhattan to see a Broadway show after Guardino shows some interest about getting into acting. However, Guardino’s grandmother gives her the best acting class she will ever get, when she scores them some really good seats.
Guardino is getting older and as a girl gets older her body changes. She has the most epic story about her first period you just have to hear it, to believe it. Which reminds me I have to Google it to see it is true. Nevertheless, I digress.
Guardino enters a beauty pageant and is asked one of the stupidest questions ever. She gives a bad answer and it costs her the crown. When she gets home, she has a heart-to-heart with her dad proving why dads are always the best man in a woman’s life.
Rocky is a favorite movie in the Guardino household. During one viewing, she learns her grandmother’s brother-in-law was an actor. Not only did she not know her great uncle was Harry Guardino, she also learned something about her last name.
Guardino is finally old enough to learn how to drive. Her first lesson is not only with her dad, it is with the whole family. Talk about the pressure. After a few blocks, they are all kicked out and she is in the car all by herself. She goes for a drive and starts to really enjoy it. What can bring her down? Red and blue flashing lights that is what. How is she going to tell her dad she got a ticket? Her mom will show her how to do it with her feminine charm.
The little girl is all grown up and it is time for her to audition for college. The same day as her interview, her grandmother needs surgery. Even though she does not want to go, her grams tells her to go. She goes unwillingly and yet somehow she nails. When she gets back to the hospital, her grandmother suffered a complication from the operation. One that is there no coming back from. And that is where our story ends.
Italian Bred is a fast moving 85-minute, one-woman show that leaves you feeling happy as you reminisce about your own life growing up and the special relationship you have with your family. You never lose that feeling and sometimes you need a sweet reminder like this play. When you walk out of the theater, at first you will talk about how much you adored it. Then you will start talking about your childhood with the people you went with to see it. That is how special it is.
What also makes this special is the way she incorporates photos and actors like Mario Cantone, Steve Schirripa and Leslie Jordan into her story om the big screen behind her. Not only that, she sings some original songs and some hits during different scenes and she has a voice that can light up the room. All of this, plus the heartfelt way she shares her memorable moments will make you want to see Italian Bred over and over again.
Who knew you would really enjoy listening to someone else’s life story foralmost an hour and half, but you do. While today is the final performance at The Colony, I am sure it will be back in the Burbank area soon, after it tours the country, starting in Chicago in May, and you should make a date to see it then.