John O’Hurley tells about a call he got from famed producer Michael Feinstein. “He asked, do you have a one-man show,” said O’Hurley in our recent phone call. “And I said, well of course I do.”
He didn’t, but he wasn’t about to say no. Feinstein then asked if O’Hurley would perform that show at the opening of Feinstein’s new space at the Hotel Nico in San Francisco. And he said, “Of course I will.”
The opening was in three weeks. So O’Hurley “sat down that weekend and wrote my one-man show.”
O’Hurley brings that show, “A Man with Standards,” to Theater by the Sea on Monday, August 1.
The title is a bit of a double entendre. “The ‘standards’ refers to songs from the Great American Song Book. Songs from Mancini, Sinatra, like ‘Moon River.’”
On the other hand, “standards” is a reference to O’Hurley’s youth. “I was lucky enough to grow up under the shadow of men with standards. The gentlemen. We were a kinder, gentler people back then.”
The show is autobiographical, using the music to “underscore my life.”
O’Hurley is arguably best-known for playing the role of J. Peterman on “Seinfeld,” but he’s done so much more. This Thanksgiving, he’ll be hosting the National Dog Show for the 21st time. “We get 30 million viewers. That’s pretty remarkable. Those are ‘Seinfeld’ numbers.”
He’s working on a new show called “Through the Grapevine,” focused on the world of wine. “I’ll be traipsing across the country, visiting all the best vineyards.”
In October, he’s headed for Greece to work on a movie. And soon, he’ll be hosting the official “Seinfeld” podcast.
O’Hurley has a strong connection to Rhode Island. He graduated from Providence College in 1977. “I was the only graduate in the theater department. I did win the theater award.”
O’Hurley visits PC “quite often. I was on the Board of Trustees for nine years. It’s still home to me.” He recalls that when he was a Friar, the theater space was in the basement of Stevens Hall. “We called it the Friars Set. Today, we have one of the best theaters, one of the greatest performing arts spaces in the country.”
You may also remember that O’Hurley appeared locally on commercials for Big Blue Bug Solutions and the Rhode Island Lottery.
So how often does O’Hurley perform his one-man show? “It’s pretty much at my leisure. When I have free time, I go book it somewhere. There’s no shortage of venues.” After Theatre by the Sea, O’Hurley heads to San Antonio, then Austin, then Orange County in California. “I’m hop-scotching around. I’ve been to some wonderful places.”
Theatre by the Sea presents John O’Hurley’s “A Man with Standards” on Monday, August 1. For tickets and information, visit www.theatrebythesea.com or call the box office at 401.782.TKTS.