The larger-than-life former mayor of Providence Buddy Cianci will be reincarnated on stage in his home city later this year, as Trinity Rep stages a new play, The Prince of Providence.
When it comes to municipal corruption, Buddy Cianci was a legend. The city’s longest serving mayor, he was forced to resign from office over assault charges, was re-elected and then forced to resign again over corruption and racketeering.
Then-Providence Journal reporter Mike Stanton had a front row seat.
“It’s our version of Hamilton,” he said.
Stanton wrote a book on Cianci – The Prince of Providence – which came out almost 20 years ago.
That’s the text that’s being turned into a play by the city’s Trinity Rep company and playwright George Brant.
Stanton, now a professor of journalism at UConn, says Buddy might have thought that was fitting.
“His life was a Shakespearean drama,” said Stanton. “I remember one time I was in his office and he was hosting the Providence Opera Company making an announcement. And he said, ‘We perform an opera here at City Hall every day.'”
But why now — years after the book’s debut, and three years after Cianci’s death from cancer?
Stanton thinks the revived interest in the Providence mayor has to do with his similarities to our current president.
“Both larger than life figures, very controversial, but very charismatic, narcissistic,” he explained. “They both have the fake hair, the fake tan. And yet as much as they infuriate some people, others just love them no matter what they do.”
The Prince of Providence will take to the boards in September, opening Trinity Rep’s season.
Stanton says there’s no word yet on who’ll snag the leading part.
“It’s a great role – it’s one of these scenery-chewing roles that I think a lot of actors over the years have expressed interest in,” he said.
But not everyone in the city is thrilled about the spotlight being back on the former mayor.
Some members of the Cianci Foundation have called the book and the play a character assassination, and say Trinity Rep, which benefited greatly from Cianci’s support of the arts in the city, is disrespecting him.