Kelli O'Hara

Kelli O'Hara (born April 16, 1976) is an American stage actress and singer. She has appeared on Broadway and Off-Broadway in many musicals since making her Broadway debut as a replacement in Jekyll & Hyde in 2000. A six-time Tony Award nominee, her first nomination was for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for the 2005 production of The Light in the Piazza. Her subsequent nominations were for The Pajama Game (2006), South Pacific (2008), Nice Work If You Can Get It (2012) and The Bridges of Madison County (2014), before winning the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical for the 2015 revival of The King and I.

    Personal life

    O'Hara grew up in Oklahoma in an Irish American family. She graduated from Deer Creek High School and also attended Oklahoma City University, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Music in vocal performance/opera. O'Hara studied voice with Florence Birdwell, who also taught Kristin Chenoweth four years earlier. O'Hara and Chenoweth are both alumnae of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority.

    O'Hara is married to Greg Naughton, son of actor James Naughton, brother of actress/singer Keira Naughton, and nephew of actor David Naughton. Their first child, Owen James, was born on June 27, 2009. The couple had a daughter, Charlotte, on September 16, 2013.

    Career

    O'Hara played the role of Young Hattie in the 2001 Broadway revival of Follies, and then played the role of Young Phyllis. She next appeared in the 2002 Broadway production of Sweet Smell of Success as Susan. In 2003 she played Albertine in the Off-Broadway Playwrights Horizons production of the musical My Life With Albertine, and, in 2004, Lucy Westenra in the Broadway production of the musical Dracula.

    She starred as Clara in the 2005 Broadway production of The Light in the Piazza at the Lincoln Center Vivian Beaumont Theatre. She had done a workshop of the musical at the Theatre Lab at Sundance, as well as during tryouts in Seattle and Chicago, as the character of Franca. She received a 2005 Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical. In her next Broadway musical, she played "Babe" in the 2006 revival of The Pajama Game, for which she received a second Tony nomination, this time for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. For this performance, New York Times reviewer Ben Brantley wrote that O'Hara "rockets past the promising ingénue status she attained with 'Light in the Piazza'".

    In January and February 2007, O'Hara played the role of Dot/Marie in the L.A. Reprise! concert staging of Sunday in the Park with George.

    In March 2007, O'Hara played Eliza Doolittle in the New York Philharmonic's production of My Fair Lady at Avery Fisher Hall.

    She can be heard as the voice of producer Beth Totenbag on PBS's 2008 animated series Click and Clack's As the Wrench Turns.

    From 2008 to 2010, O'Hara starred as Nellie Forbush in the Broadway revival of South Pacific at the Lincoln Center Vivian Beaumont Theater, for which she was nominated for her third Tony Award. O'Hara took maternity leave on March 8, 2009 and returned to the musical on October 13, 2009.

    O'Hara played the role of Ella Peterson in the November 2010 New York City Center Encores! semi-staged concert presentation of Bells Are Ringing.

    On December 5, 2011, she was part of a benefit concert of She Loves Me, presented by the Roundabout Theater Company, in honor of its 10-year anniversary. She played the main character of Amalia, co-starring with Josh Radnor, who played Georg. The production was directed by Scott Ellis, the musical director was Paul Gemignani, and the cast included Tony Award winner Jane Krakowski as Miss Ritter, Cheyenne Jackson as Steven Kodaly, Tony nominee Michael McGrath as Sipos, Tony nominee Rory O'Malley as Arpad, and four-time Tony nominee Victor Garber as Mr. Maraczek. She had performed one of the most famous songs from the show, "Will He Like Me?", one day before, on December 4, 2011, at the Kennedy Center in honor of Barbara Cook, who was being honored that year.

    She starred on Broadway as Billie Bendix in Nice Work if You Can Get It from April 2012 to March 2013 and received her fourth Tony Award nomination. She was replaced by Jessie Mueller.

    On December 31, 2012, she was part of "Celebrating Marvin Hamlisch", a concert held in Lincoln Center saluting the late composer. Other performers were Joshua Bell, Raúl Esparza, Michael Feinstein, Maria Friedman, Josh Groban, Megan Hilty, Audra McDonald, Lilla Crawford, Beth Behrs and Frederica von Stade. She, along with Audra McDonald and Megan Hilty, sang "At The Ballet", from A Chorus Line.

    From February 28, 2013 to March 2, 2013, she played the main character of Julie in the staged concert version of Carousel, presented by the New York Philharmonic, at Avery Fisher Hall. Nathan Gunn played Billy, Stephanie Blythe played Nettie, Jessie Mueller played Carrie, Jason Danieley played Enoch, Shuler Hensley played Jigger, John Cullum played the Starkeeper, and Kate Burton played Mrs. Mullin. Tiler Peck danced the role of Louise to choreography by Warren Carlyle. The production was directed by John Rando.

    From January to May 2014, she starred as Francesca Johnson in the new Broadway musical The Bridges of Madison County, for which she received her fifth Tony Award nomination. She received positive reviews. Elyse Sommer, the curtainup.com reviewer, noted O'Hara's "superb vocal chops" and her "exquisite" duets with co-star Steven Pasquale.

    She played Mrs. Darling in the NBC telecast of Peter Pan Live!.

    On December 31, 2014, O'Hara made her operatic debut at The Metropolitan Opera as Valencienne in Franz Lehár's The Merry Widow, alongside well-loved Soprano Renee Fleming.

    Following her Metropolitan Opera debut, O'Hara returned to Lincoln Center Theatre for the 3rd time to star as Anna Leonowens in the Broadway revival of The King and I, opposite Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe as The King. The production began previews at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre on March 12, 2015 and opened on April 15, 2015. This role won O'Hara and her co-star Ruthie Ann Miles their first Tony Awards.

    Ever since being nominated for The Light in the Piazza, O'Hara has been nominated for a Tony Award for every subsequent role she has played on Broadway.

    Stage roles

    O'Hara at a NYS ARTS Fall Gala in 2008
    Broadway
    • Jekyll & Hyde (2000) as Kate (replacement) / Emma (understudy)
    • Follies (2001) as Young Hattie/Ensemble, then as Young Phyllis
    • Sweet Smell of Success: The Musical (2002) as Susan
    • Dracula, the Musical (2004) as Lucy Westenra
    • The Light in the Piazza (2005) as Clara Johnson
    • The Pajama Game (2006) as Babe Williams
    • South Pacific (2008) as Nellie Forbush
    • Nice Work If You Can Get It (2012) as Billie Bendix
    • The Bridges of Madison County (2014) as Francesca Johnson
    • The King and I (2015) as Anna Leonowens
    Off-Broadway and regional theatre
    • (2003) (La Jolla Playhouse)
    • My Life with Albertine (2003) as Albertine (off-Broadway)
    • The Light in the Piazza (2004) as Franca (in Seattle and Chicago)
    • Bells Are Ringing (2010) as Ella Peterson (Encores!)
    • Far From Heaven (2012) as Cathy Whitaker (developmental premiere, Williamstown Theatre Festival)
    National tours
    • Jekyll & Hyde (1999-2000) as Ensemble / Emma (u/s), and later as Emma (replacement)
    Operatic Repertoire
    • The Merry Widow by Franz Lehár (2014) as Valencienne (The Metropolitan Opera)

    Discography

    • 2008 Wonder in the World
    • 2011 Always
    Cast recordings
    • 2002 Sweet Smell of Success
    • 2003 My Life with Albertine
    • 2005 The Light in the Piazza
    • 2006 Harry on Broadway, Act I—two-disc set: 1. Original Broadway cast recording The Pajama Game; 2. Songs from Thou Shalt Not, Harry Connick, Jr. featuring Kelli O'Hara
    • 2008 South Pacific
    • 2012 Nice Work If You Can Get It
    • 2014 The Bridges of Madison County
    • 2015 The King and I
    Soundtracks
    • 2014 Peter Pan Live!

    Awards and nominations

    Year Award Category Nominated Work Result
    2005 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical The Light in the Piazza Nominated
    Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Nominated
    2006 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical The Pajama Game Nominated
    Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
    Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
    2008 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical South Pacific Nominated
    Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
    Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
    2012 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Nice Work If You Can Get It Nominated
    Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
    Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Nominated
    Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
    2014 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical The Bridges of Madison County Nominated
    Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
    Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Nominated
    Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
    2015 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical The King and I Won
    Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Nominated
    Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated

    References

    External links

    0.017857