Buddy Stories

Mike Stanton’s classic biography of one city’s felonious mayor is now a celebrated stage drama.

Mike Stanton
Journalist Mike Stanton

If you know Providence, Rhode Island, politics, you probably have a story about Buddy Cianci. The city’s charismatic mayor was as famous for his indiscretion as for his corruption. His is a story easily told large, as was done in 2003 by Pulitzer Prize-winning Providence Journal reporter Mike Stanton ’79 BA (PSc). Stanton’s book, The Prince of Providence, was a New York Times bestseller and featured on the podcast Crimetown, also about Providence corruption.

Now, the book has been adapted into a play, mounted by the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence. This September, it opened to sellout audiences, standing ovations, and rave reviews. The Boston Globe said it “plays like a cross between The Last Hurrah, Prizzi’s Honor, and Citizen Kane.” The Times said the play “deftly captures the Tilt-a-Whirl sweep of Cianci’s life.” Broadway and a movie are contemplated.

Meanwhile, Stanton, now a journalism professor at the University of Connecticut and fellow with the Globe’s Spotlight investigative team, turned his attention to another commanding figure: undefeated heavyweight boxer Rocky Marciano. Unbeaten: Rocky Marciano’s Fight for Perfection in a Crooked World, published by Henry Holt, won best book awards from the Globe and the Wall Street Journal. Stanton says the book “opens a window into a lost era in America involving immigrants, urban America, and postwar changes that roiled society after World War II.”

This article appeared in the fall 2019 print edition of Maxwell Perspective © Maxwell School of Syracuse University. To request a copy, e-mail