Philly is getting a double shot of John O'Hurley during National Dog Show week.
The Kennel Club of Philadelphia's dog show, which the actor/singer/game show host has hosted on TV since 2002, is at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks on Nov. 17 and 18. In the run-up, the musical The Perfect Dog, based on his hit book, will play at the Centre Theatre in Norristown Nov. 9-11 and 15. On that last date, O'Hurley will be on hand for a post-show talkback. (Details at brownpapertickets.com.)
You know O'Hurley. You know his sonorous voice from a bunch of cartoons — including his gig as King Neptune on SpongeBob SquarePants. Among many film and TV credits, he played J. Peterman (Elaine's boss) in Seinfeld from 1995 to 1998 and hosted Family Feud from 2006 to 2010.
He's a classically trained vocalist who recently finished four months on Broadway as Billy Flynn in Chicago … and he has just been named to succeed Cuba Gooding in the role Nov. 20-Dec. 2.
He can also dance a lick.
The world will not soon forget that in 2005 O'Hurley and partner Charlotte Jørgensen made the finals of the first Dancing with the Stars and … lost! So great was audience outrage the pair were brought back for a controversial "grudge match" and emerged victorious.
O'Hurley is also a crusader for epilepsy awareness and treatment, dating to the death of a sister from complications due to epilepsy.
He calls The Perfect Dog "a wonderful expansion of this simple poem I wrote years ago." It has a wonderful message: None of us is perfect, but there is a perfect dog, the one sitting next to you.
"Dogs teach us important lessons in humility and self-forgiveness," O'Hurley says. "A dog will poop on the carpet, but it will forgive itself for its mistake long before we do."
The genesis of the poem is lovely. "My son was lying next to me one night, down in Florida," he says, "and the dog show was coming up. And every year I try to write something for it. And he says: 'Dad, is the dog in Best of Show, is that a perfect dog?' And we talked about it, and with him in my arms I proceeded to compose the poem, which became the book, which became the musical."
Whoa, whoa, slow down. How'd that last leap happen? "It was a bizarre occurrence," O'Hurley says.
"In 2013, I was doing a relaunch of Spamalot at the Municipal Opera Theatre in St. Louis. I'd been in that show in Las Vegas and again in Los Angeles. Eric Idle came out to host the show, and Eric's team and I sat down and rehashed old times.
"The subject of The Perfect Dog came up, and they said, 'Why don't we buy the book and make a musical out of it?' " A year later, the group sent him a tape of the musical, "and I almost started weeping, it was so beautiful. They've created this beautiful story with a mom, a dad, and a little girl who wants everything to be perfect."
The dog will do anything to make the little girl happy. It even sings a song called "She Would Be Happy If I Wasn't Me."
As the book before it did with young readers, the musical of The Perfect Dog is steadily becoming a favorite at family theaters. "It's a perfect fit for National Dog Show week," O'Hurley says. "I hope it's blessed with permanence."