MORRISTOWN, NJ – Actress and writer Candice Guardino is bringing her one-woman show, “Italian Bred,” to The Bickford Theatre on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 5 and 6. The Saturday evening performance is at 8 p.m. and the Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. The show has nothing to do with cooking, she emphasized, although the play on “bred’ and “bread” immediately connects with traditional Italian food. Patrons can also take advantage of the New Jersey food trucks before the show.
In an interview, Ms. Guardino said she based the play on her family relationships, especially her Grandmother who came from Italy when a child and lived most of her life in Brooklyn. “She’s the heart and soul of the show,” the actress said. “She was a brash and bawdy woman.” Although her granddaughter may have been just five or six at the time, Ms. Guardino said her grandmother treated her like an adult, so she had an unfiltered view of Italian customs and mores. Ms. Guardino’s mother and father moved to Staten Island and she said her grandmother used to complain about crossing the Verrazano Bridge.
Guardino majored in theatre at Wagner College, located on Staten Island. She became addicted to theatre, noting, “There was nothing else I wanted to do.” Although shy as a child, she said she took to the stage right away, both as a performer and a writer. During college, she studied in London and has visited Italy with her husband. Guardino, although married, travels around the country with her dog, Cannoli, who helps her remain centered.
She has written for television and films, including this one-person play, which she has performed around the country, from Off Broadway in New York to Chicago, Los Angeles and, most recently, Asbury Park. “Every audience is different,” she said, “and I learn from them.” She has done her share of stand-up comedy, too, she said, which has given her insights on audience reaction.
Primarily, she said, “I just like to tell stories. That’s how all of this morphed into a show. It’s all about the dialogue.” The play, she said, seems to attract people of all ages, “from eight to 108.” One patron told her, “It’s all about the wonder years.” She has had a variety of agents over time, as well as mentors who have encouraged her along the way. Her uncle, Harry Guardino, has enjoyed a successful film career. Among her video cameos are Leslie Jordan of “Will and Grace,” Mario Cantone of “Sex and the City” and Steve Schirripa of “The Sopranos.” In the future, she said, she would like to do a romantic comedy.
She compared her current play to the highly successful film, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and often has celebrities appear on stage with her. Her play is interspersed with a media screen, which shows some of the guests who have appeared with her. She also referred to “The Sopranos” and “Good Fellas” with their Italian themes. The play lasts just 85 minutes with no intermission. She performs each character and relies on those shadings rather than changes of costume
Yes, she said, she grew up as a Roman Catholic “with a ton of guilt.” But all those traits, good and bad, happy and sad, contribute to this tribute to her youth as an American girl, learning about the world and her family history. “I hope people will come and laugh and cry and laugh again,” she said of the cornucopia of emotions in “Italian Bred.”