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‘Chicago’ and ‘Matilda’ lighting up the stage at PPAC this month

By Laurence J. Sasso, Jr.

Here’s how advance publicity describes Chicago, the six time Tony Award-winning musical that will be on stage at the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) May 2-7: “Murder. Greed. Corruption. Violence. Exploitation. Adultery. Treachery. Set amidst the razzle-dazzle decadence of the 1920s, Chicago is the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who maliciously murders her on-the-side lover after he threatens to walk out on her. Desperate to avoid conviction, she dupes the public, the media and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly, by hiring Chicago’s slickest criminal lawyer to transform her malicious crime into a barrage of sensational headlines, the likes of which might just as easily be ripped from today’s tabloids.”

With a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse and music by John Kander and lyrics by Ebb, the show has an enviable pedigree. Rhode Islanders will also probably be greatly pleased that John O’Hurley will be headlining as Billy Flynn in this longest-running American musical in Broadway history. Locals have a soft spot in their hearts for Providence College alumnus O’Hurley, known for his recurring role on Seinfeld and hosting Purina’s National Dog Show on TV every Thanksgiving.

Also at PPAC from May 17-21 Matilda the Musical will be making its Providence debut. According to a media release from the sponsors: “winner of over 70 international awards including 4 Tony Awards and a record-breaking seven Olivier Awards including Best Musical, Matilda the Musical is based on the beloved novel by best-selling author Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox). It is the story of an extraordinary girl who dreams of a better life. Armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, Matilda dares to take a stand and change her destiny.”

For tickets or more information on both shows call (401) 421- 2787.