O'Hara performing at the National Memorial Day Concert in May 2010
April 16, 1976 |
Elk City, Oklahoma
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 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.
O'Hara has been nominated for six Tony Awards, including five for Best Actress in a Musical for her work in The Pajama Game, South Pacific, Nice Work If You Can Get It, The Bridges of Madison County, and most recently The King and I. Her first nomination was for her featured role in The Light in the Piazza in 2005.
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 Broadway production of Sweet Smell of Success as Susan in 2002. In 2003 she played the role of Albertine in the Off-Broadway Playwrights Horizons production of the musical My Life With Albertine. She played the role of Lucy Westenra in the Broadway production of the musical Dracula in 2004.
She starred in the Broadway production of The Light in the Piazza at the Lincoln Center Vivian Beaumont Theatre in 2005 as Clara. 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 Broadway revival of The Pajama Game in 2006. The New York Times reviewer, Ben Brantley, wrote that O'Hara "rockets past the promising ingénue status she attained with 'Light in the Piazza'".
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.
She starred in the Broadway revival of South Pacific in 2008 through 2010 as Nellie Forbush at the Lincoln Center Vivian Beaumont Theater, and was nominated for the 2008 Tony Award, Best Performance By a Leading Actress in a Musical. O'Hara took maternity leave on March 8, 2009 and returned to the musical on October 13, 2009.
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 the character of Georg. The production was directed by Scott Ellis. The musical director was Paul Gemignani. The cast also 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. Curiously, she had performed "Will He Like Me?", one of the most famous songs from the show, one day before, on December 4, 2011, at Kennedy Center, in honor of Barbara Cook, who was being honored that year.
She starred on Broadway in Nice Work if You Can Get It as Billie Bendix from April 2012 to March 2013 and received her fourth Tony Award nomination. She was replaced by Jessie Mueller.
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.
She appeared on Broadway in the role of Francesca Johnson in the new musical The Bridges of Madison County from January 2014 through May 2014, 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.
Following her debut at the Metropolitan Opera, 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 starring 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. 
- 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
- Beauty (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
- 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
Awards and nominations
- Kelly, Mary Pat."Broadway's Irish Colleen"Irish America magazine, Oct/Nov 2008 issue
- Hetrick, Adam."Tony Nominee O'Hara and Naughton Welcome a Son," playbill.com, June 29, 2009
- Gioia, Michael. "Kelli O'Hara and Greg Naughton Welcome Baby Girl" playbill.com, September 16, 2013
- Playbill News: "Just the Facts: List of 2006 Tony Award Winners and Nominees" playbill.com, June 11, 2006
- 2007-2008 "Tony Nominations Announced; 'In the Heights' Earns 13 Noms", Playbill, May 13, 2008
- Jones, Kenneth and Hetrick, Adam. 2012 "Tony Awards Nominations Announced; Once Earns 11 Nominations"
-  broadway.com
- " 'Follies' 2001 Broadway Revival" sondheimguide.com, accessed May 22, 2014
- Jones, Kenneth and Simonson, Robert. "'Sweet Smell of Success' Ends Broadway Run June 15" playbill.com, June 15, 2002
- Jones, Kenneth. " 'My Life With Albertine', the Musical That Would Make Proust Sing, Opens March 13" playbill.com, March 13, 2003
- Stevens, Beth.Kelli O'Hara" broadway.com, September 28, 2004
- Simonson, Robert."Guettel-Lucas Musical The Light in the Piazza Opens on Broadway April 18" playbill.com, April 18, 2005
- Gans, Andrew. "DIVA TALK: A Chat with Piazza's Kelli O'Hara Plus News of Menzel, Haran and Lansbury" playbill.com, August 26, 2005
- Jones, Kenneth."'Doubt' Is Best Play, 'Spamalot' Best Musical; Butz, Irwin, Clark, Jones, Nichols Win 2005 Tonys" playbill.com, June 5, 2005
- "Theater Review. 'The Pajama Game' " The New York Times, February 24, 2006
- Gans, Andrew. "Hello, George! 'Sunday in the Park' — with Felciano and O'Hara — Begins Reprise! Run Jan. 30" playbill.com, January 30, 2007
- Hetrick, Adam."Kelli O'Hara Returns to South Pacific for Musical's Final Weeks Aug. 10" playbill.com, August 10, 2010
- Ku, Andrew."Just the Facts: List of 2008 Tony Award Winners and Nominees" playbill.com, June 16, 2008
- Hetrick, Adam. "Expectant O'Hara to Depart South Pacific March 8 paybill.com, February 2, 2009
- Glikas, Bruce. "Welcome Back, Kelli! Broadway Sweetheart O'Hara Returns to 'South Pacific' " broadway.com, October 15, 2009
- Kenrick, John. " 'Bells Are Ringing' Review, November 2010" musicals101.com, accessed May 23, 2014
- Jones, Kenneth. " 'She Loves Me', a '90s Hit for Roundabout, Gets Benefit Concert Dec. 5; Kelli O'Hara and Josh Radnor Star" playbill.com, December 5, 2011
- Bowgen, Philippe. "In Moving Final-Performance Speech, Kelli O'Hara Assures Bridges Is 'By No Means Going Into The Ground'" playbill.com, May 19, 2014
- Sommer, Elyse. "A CurtainUp Review. 'The Bridges Of Madison County'" curtainup.com, accessed May 23, 2014
- Snetiker, Marc Broadway star Kelli O'Hara joins 'Peter Pan Live' as Mrs. Darling ew.com, September 9, 2014
- The Met Opera http://www.metopera.org/opera/the-merry-widow-lehar-tickets
- "Ken Watanabe, Kelli O’Hara, Ruthie Ann Miles, Conrad Ricamora, Jon Viktor Corpuz, Paul Nakauchi and More Set for Lincoln Center Theater’s The King and I". BackstagePasswithLiaChang.com. November 17, 2014.
- "Kelli O'Hara Broadway" playbillvault.com, accessed May 7, 2015
- Hetrick, Adam."'Far From Heaven', With Kelli O'Hara, Tests Its Wings in Williamstown Starting July 19" playbill.com, July 19, 2012
- "AN AMERICAN IN PARIS AND FUN HOME Lead 2015 Tony Award Nominations with 12 each; Ken Watanabe, Ruthie Ann Miles, Kelli O’Hara, Chita Rivera, Bradley Cooper, Kristin Chenoweth, Bill Nighy, Helen Mirren, Elisabeth Moss, Carey Mulligan, Ruth Wilson, K. Todd Freeman, Patricia Clarkson Among the Nominees". BackstagePasswithLiaChang.com. April 28, 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kelli O'Hara.|
- Official site
- Kelli O'Hara at the Internet Movie Database
- Kelli O'Hara at the Internet Broadway Database
- Kelli O'Hara - Downstage Center interview at American Theatre Wing.org
- Kelli O'Hara Interview by Beth Stevens on Broadway.com