O'Hara performing at the National Memorial Day Concert in May 2010
April 16, 1976 |
Elk City, Oklahoma, U.S.
Kelli Christine O'Hara (born April 16, 1976) is an American 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.
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.
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 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.
In 2010 she played the role of Ellen in the film Sex and the City 2 and also in 2011 appeared in "Mercy" the 1st episode of the 2nd season the CBS show Blue Bloods. 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.
Following her Metropolitan Opera debut, O'Hara returned to Lincoln Center Theatre for the third time to star as Anna Leonowens in the Broadway revival of The King and I, opposite 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. O'Hara played her final performance as Anna on April 17, 2016.
- 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
- 2015 The King and I
- 2014 Peter Pan Live!
Awards and nominations
- Hernandez, Ernio. "Playbill.com's Cue & A: Kelli O'Hara", Playbill, June 10, 2008, accessed July 13, 2016
- "Kelli O'Hara wins best actress Tony on her sixth attempt". ABC News. 7 June 2015. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
- 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
- " '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 Merry Widow tickets at The Met Opera
- Hetrick, Adam. "Exclusive: Marin Mazzie Will Succeed Kelli O'Hara in Broadway's 'King and I'" playbill.com, February 16, 2016
- "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
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