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John O'Hurley takes on role of Billy Flynn in 'Chicago'

Presented in Oklahoma City by Celebrity Attractions, the award-winning musical “Chicago” comes to the Civic Center Music Hall this week for eight performances.
BY RICK ROGERS, For The Oklahoman Modified: January 14, 2014 at 5:06 pm •  Published: January 12, 2014

The road to becoming a successful actor can be fraught with detours and missteps. But every experience, whether a walk-on part in a stage production or a cameo in a small-budget film, becomes an important part of any performer's arsenal.

And while many actors wait impatiently for that big break that gets them noticed, most just hope their work will be sufficiently varied.

Few could ask for a more diverse career than that of John O'Hurley, an actor whose credits range from “Seinfeld” and “Dancing With the Stars” to “Family Feud” and “All My Children.”

He's currently starring as Billy Flynn in the national touring production of John Kander and Fred Ebb's hit musical “Chicago.” Presented locally by Celebrity Attractions, the award-winning musical comes to the Civic Center Music Hall this week for eight performances.

Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, this musical theater classic takes a satirical look at corruption in the criminal justice system. Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, both incarcerated for murder, attempt to capitalize on their notoriety in order to establish careers in show business.

Flynn, a criminal lawyer who has become famous for representing celebrity felons, is hired to represent them. With his impressive record for getting convictions overturned, Flynn convinces Hart and Kelly that he is their ticket to freedom.

“I think Billy Flynn is one of the great leading man roles in musical theater,” O'Hurley said recently. “I like to play the danger in the role, but I also play the flirt in Billy, which makes you wonder what kind of character he really is.

“The morality of this man is interesting, and I think you need to be able to play both sides of that reality with a smile. Billy's 11 o'clock number is called ‘Razzle Dazzle' and that's pretty much the definition of who he is.”

While the original production of “Chicago” garnered mixed to favorable reviews when it opened in 1975, “A Chorus Line” emerged as the big hit that season, winning nine Tony Awards. Twenty years later, “Chicago” finally received its due and has since become the longest-running revival in Broadway history.

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