To hear her tell it, actor and comedian Candice Guardino had a wonderful if eccentric childhood growing up in Staten Island. “I had a very wonderful community, a heartfelt experience growing up there,” she said. “It’s just that everybody was in your business.”
Well, now Guardino is REALLY making sure everybody knows her family’s business through her one-woman show, Candice Guardino’s Italian Bred, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., February 9 the Schorr Family Firehouse Stage in Johnson City. Inspired by the works of John Leguizamo and Lily Tomlin, Guardino created Italian Bred, in which she takes the audience on a tour of her life, up until around college age playing the parts of her various family members.
And when it comes to broadcasting her family’s business? Well, her family couldn’t be more delighted.
“I think some people think when you’re going to impersonate your family, your family members will get insulted. I have the complete opposite,” she said. “They literally come to the shows, they watch it and give me notes. They want to know why they’re not in more scenes! I have THAT family. My Dad will be like, ‘You’re not saying it right. THIS is how I say it.’ I always say it makes for an exhausting ride home for me because if they come to see a show I’m like, “Guys, no more notes. I get it. I’ll change it.”
Italian Bred is not a stand-up comedy act, either. It may have started that way, but Guardino’s theater training and talents have turned it into a full, scripted production.
“It started out as a set of 20-minute comedy sketches and then I started to bring my theater background into it. I am a singer, too and I thought I would add a musical element into it, also,” she said. “It is a comedy but it is not a traditional stand-up act. I don’t sit there with a stool and a mic and tell you stories. I have a face mic on because I am jumping all over the stage and singing. It’s a theatrical comedy, but it is more of a show.”
Guardino may be alone on stage, but she has some familiar faces as pre-recorded cameo appearances in her show, and she has worked out the dialog to be timed perfectly. Among the actors lending their virtual presence to Italian Bred are Vincent Pastore (Salvatore ‘Pussy’ Bonpensiero on The Sopranos) Steve Schirripa (Bobby ‘Bacala’ Baccalieri on The Sopranos, Anthony Abetemarco on Blue Bloods).
Among the vignettes from Guardino’s life are scenes like her first driving lessons with her Dad.
With her whole family in the car.
“All the stories I tell in the show are true stories that actually happened to me,” she said. “It’s really about family and everyone in the end just relates to it, whether you are Italian or not.”
“It’s something that for me, being a writer and a storyteller, I am so excited to share the experiences and stories I have to tell because so many people come up to me after the show and say, That happened to me, or my family is just like yours or your mom is just like a mom I once knew,” she said. “That human connection with the audience is so fun.”
Tickets are $35/30, and can be purchased online at goodwilltheatre.net or by calling the Box Office at: (607) 772-2404, ext. 301. The show’s content may not be appropriate for anyone under 18. Parental discretion is advised.
The Schorr Family Firehouse Stage is located on the corner of Corliss Avenue and Willow Street in Johnson City. For more information, contact the Goodwill Theatre Box Office at: (607) 772-2404, ext. 301, or visit: goodwilltheatre.net or facebook.com/SchorrFamilyFirehouseStage