John O’Hurley: From Maine to PC to ‘Chicago’


John O’Hurley sat patiently in the lobby of the Providence Performing Arts Center, fielding questions from radio, TV and newspaper reporters, each given 15 minutes to interview the popular star of “Seinfeld,” “Dancing With the Stars” and now the Broadway hit, “Chicago.”

There’s a lot more to this Man For All Seasons, beginning with his childhood in Kittery, Maine, which he describes as “once a major fishing and shipping center, and now the largest outlet shopping area.

“When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up,” Hurley replied, “I am an actor. Not i want to be an actor. I always considered myself an actor. I would sit in front of my TV and act out all the roles.”

O’Hurley’s dream, or rather mission, came true.

“I was the only graduating senior in the Theatre Department at Providence College. I got all the good roles, and being the only one, I won the Theatre Award. Thirty years later, I was presented an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from the college.”

John’s father was also a graduate of Providence College, and John serves on the school’s Board of Trustees.

“The trustees meet three times a year, so that brings me to Providence, and a chance to connect with many friends I have here,” he said. (Warwick’s James Woods is one of them)

“I enjoyed attending plays at Trinity Rep while I was an undergraduate,” he said. “I have a great deal of respect for Trinity and the outstanding actors who chose to stay in Providence and to be part of the resident company.”

Movie, stage and television actor, composer, singer, dancer, author, TV game show host, soap star, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, philanthropist and truly a Renaissance man, O’Hurley has done it all. He recently did an ad for the Rhode Island Lottery “because a local friend asked me to” and regularly hosts the Thanksgiving Day National Dog Show on TV.

“I enjoy life,” he said, and that was obvious when I thanked him for his patience in agreeing to an afternoon of countless one-on-one interviews.

O’Hurley was a huge success playing Billy Flynn in the Broadway revival of “Chicago” and is now taking the winner of six Tony Awards on the road, spending a week in Providence (May 2-7).

I never asked him his age, but it is disconcerting that a man of his vast experience could look so young and handsome and full of energy. A golf fanatic, he carries a single digit handicap and plays in a number of charity golf tournaments.

You are sure to see John O’Hurley around the state, which he is very familiar with during the run of “Chicago.” You will want to see him as Billy Flynn in the highly acclaimed production of “Chicago,” playing May 2-7 at PPAC. Call 421-ARTS for reservations.


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