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Kelli O'Hara
Kelli O'Hara Memorial Day concert.jpg
O'Hara performing at the National Memorial Day Concert in May 2010
Born (1976-04-16) April 16, 1976 (age 45)
OccupationActress, singer
Years active2001–present
Greg Naughton
(m. 2007)

Kelli Christine O'Hara (born April 16, 1976)[1] is an American actress and singer, most known for her work on the Broadway and opera stages.

A seven-time Tony Award nominee, O'Hara won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance as Anna Leonowens in the Lincoln Center Theater revival of The King and I.[2] She also received Tony nominations for her performances in The Light in the Piazza (2005), The Pajama Game (2006), South Pacific (2008), Nice Work If You Can Get It (2012), The Bridges of Madison County (2014), and Kiss Me, Kate (2019). O'Hara also received a 2019 Olivier Award nomination for her performance as Anna Leonowens in the West End revival of The King and I.

O'Hara made her debut at The Metropolitan Opera in a 2014 production of Franz Lehár's The Merry Widow. In 2018, she played the role of Despina in the Met Opera's production of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte. She has also played roles in television series, such as Masters of Sex and 13 Reasons Why, receiving a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for her starring role in the 2017 web drama series The Accidental Wolf.

Early life

O'Hara was born in Elk City, Oklahoma, and grew up in an Irish American family.[3][4] 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.


Early career

One of O'Hara's earliest professional roles was in a US national tour of the musical Jekyll and Hyde.[3] She next played the role of Young Hattie in the 2001 Broadway revival of Follies, and then played the role of Young Phyllis.[5] She next appeared in the 2002 Broadway production of Sweet Smell of Success as Susan.[6] In 2003 she played Albertine in the Off-Broadway Playwrights Horizons production of the musical My Life With Albertine,[7] and, in 2004, Lucy Westenra in the Broadway production of Dracula, the Musical.[8]

She starred as Clara in the 2005 Broadway production of The Light in the Piazza at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theatre.[9] She had appeared in a workshop of the musical at the Theatre Lab at Sundance, and in tryouts in Seattle and Chicago, as the character of Franca.[10] She received a 2005 Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical.[11] O'Hara has been nominated for, or won, a Tony Award for every subsequent role she has played on Broadway.[12] In her next Broadway musical, she played Babe in the 2006 revival of The Pajama Game, for which she was nominated 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".[13]

In 2007, O'Hara played the role of Dot/Marie in the Los Angeles Reprise! concert staging of Sunday in the Park with George[14] and Eliza Doolittle in the New York Philharmonic's semi-staged production of My Fair Lady at Avery Fisher Hall.[15] She was the voice of producer Beth Totenbag on PBS's 2008 animated series Click and Clack's As the Wrench Turns.[citation needed] From 2008 to 2010, O'Hara starred as Nellie Forbush in the Broadway revival of South Pacific at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater,[16] for which she was nominated for her third Tony Award.[17] She took maternity leave in March 2009 and returned to the musical in October 2009.[18][19]

O'Hara played the role of Ella Peterson in the 2010 New York City Center Encores! concert presentation of Bells Are Ringing.[20] She played the role of Ellen in the film Sex and the City 2 (2010), and in 2011 she appeared in "Mercy", the first episode of the second season of the CBS show Blue Bloods.[21][22] Also in 2011, she played the role of Amalia in a benefit concert of She Loves Me, presented by the Roundabout Theater Company, in honor of the company's 20th anniversary. Scott Ellis directed, and the musical director was Paul Gemignani.[23] She had performed one of the best known songs from the show, "Will He Like Me?", the previous evening at Kennedy Center in honor of Barbara Cook.[24]

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.[25] In 2012, at the New Year's Eve concert, "Celebrating Marvin Hamlisch", at Lincoln Center, she sang "At the Ballet", from A Chorus Line, along with Audra McDonald and Megan Hilty.[26] In 2013, she played the lead character of Julie in the staged concert of Carousel presented by the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall.[27] From January to May 2014, she starred as Francesca Johnson in the Broadway musical The Bridges of Madison County, for which she received her fifth Tony Award nomination.[28] Elyse Sommer, the reviewer, noted O'Hara's "superb vocal chops" and her "exquisite" duets with co-star Steven Pasquale.[29] She played Mrs. Darling in the 2014 NBC telecast Peter Pan Live!.[30] She sang two concerts, titled Kelli and Matthew: Home for the Holidays, in December 2014 at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops.[31] On December 31, 2014, O'Hara made her operatic debut at The Metropolitan Opera as Valencienne in Franz Lehár's The Merry Widow, alongside Renee Fleming in the title role.[32]


O'Hara returned to Lincoln Center Theatre 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 in March 2015 and opened in April 2015. This role won O'Hara her first Tony Award. O'Hara's final performance as Anna was in April 2016.[33] She gave her debut solo concert at Carnegie Hall in October 2016[34] and guest-starred as the recurring character Dody on the fourth season of Masters of Sex.[35] She played Fiona in the Encores! production of Brigadoon at New York City Center in November 2017.[36] Jeremy Gerard of Deadline Hollywood called O'Hara's performance "luminous", writing: "O’Hara is impossibly beautiful, vocally and in conveying Fiona’s romantic determination and heartbreak."[37] Also in 2017, she starred as Kate Bonner in Season 1 of the web drama series The Accidental Wolf,[38] receiving a 2018 Primetime Emmy Award nomination.[39]

O'Hara appeared in the 2018 season of 13 Reasons Why as Jackie, an anti-bullying advocate.[40] The same year at the Metropolitan Opera, she sang the role of Despina in Così fan tutte.[3][41] She reprised her role in The King and I at the London Palladium for a limited run from June to September 2018.[42]

She returned to Broadway in February 2019 in a revival of Kiss Me, Kate at Studio 54, as Lilli Vanessi/Katharine. The production was directed by Scott Ellis and choreographed by Warren Carlyle. The revival was produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company, which had produced a benefit concert of the show with O'Hara, Ellis, and Carlyle in 2016.[43][44]

Personal life

O'Hara is married to Greg Naughton of The Sweet Remains, son of actor James Naughton. Their first child, Owen James, was born in 2009.[45] The couple also has a daughter, Charlotte, born in 2013.[46]



Year Title Role Notes
2005 The Dying Gaul Liz
2007 The Key to Reserva Grace Thornberry Short film
2009 Clear Blue Tuesday Anonymous Woman
2010 The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie! Singer
2010 Sex and the City 2 Ellen
2020 All the Bright Places Sheryl


Year Title Role Notes
2001 Jekyll & Hyde: Direct from Broadway Kate Television film
2007 All My Children Leslie 2 episodes
2007 Numb3rs Rachel Lawton Episode: "Democracy"
2007 American Experience Maria Reynolds Episode: "Alexander Hamilton"
2008 Late Show with David Letterman Ensign Nellie Forbush Episode: "15.125"
2008 Click and Clack's As the Wrench Turns Beth 2 episodes
2008 Play or Be Played Television film
2008 Blue Blood Rebecca Television film
2010-2013 Live From Lincoln Center Julie Jordan/Ensign Nellie Forbush 2 episodes
2011 Blue Bloods Lisa Episode: "Mercy"
2014 Peter Pan Live! Mrs. Darling Television film
2015-2018 Great Performances at the Met Despina/Valancienne 2 episodes
2016 Masters of Sex Dody 3 episodes
2018 13 Reasons Why Jackie 6 episodes
2021 The Gilded Age Aurora Fane 10 episodes


Year Title Role Notes
2014 Submissions Only Anna Grace Episode: "Having Foresight"
2020 The Accidental Wolf Katie 4 episodes; miniseries

Stage roles

O'Hara at a NYS ARTS Fall Gala in 2008
O'Hara at a NYS ARTS Fall Gala in 2008
West End
Off-Broadway and regional theatre
Operatic repertoire


Cast recordings

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
Grammy Award Best Musical Theater Album 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
Grammy Award Best Musical Theater Album Nominated
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
2018 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series The Accidental Wolf Nominated
Evening Standard Theatre Award[50][51] Best Musical Performance The King and I Nominated
2019 Laurence Olivier Award[52] Best Actress in a Musical Nominated
Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Kiss Me, Kate Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Nominated
Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre Honoree


  1. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. "'s Cue & A: Kelli O'Hara", Playbill, June 10, 2008, accessed July 13, 2016
  2. ^ "Kelli O'Hara wins best actress Tony on her sixth attempt". ABC News. 7 June 2015. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Shenton, Mark. "The King and I star Kelli O'Hara: 'Doing work that feels like it has a message is very satisfying'", The Stage, June 6, 2018
  4. ^ Kelly, Mary Pat."Broadway's Irish Colleen"Irish America magazine, Oct/Nov 2008 issue
  5. ^ "Follies 2001 Broadway Revival",, accessed May 22, 2014
  6. ^ Jones, Kenneth and Simonson, Robert. "Sweet Smell of Success Ends Broadway Run June 15" Archived 2014-05-22 at the Wayback Machine,, June 15, 2002
  7. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "My Life With Albertine, the Musical That Would Make Proust Sing, Opens March 13" Archived 2014-05-22 at the Wayback Machine,, March 13, 2003
  8. ^ Stevens, Beth. Kelli O'Hara",, September 28, 2004
  9. ^ Simonson, Robert."Guettel-Lucas Musical The Light in the Piazza Opens on Broadway April 18" Archived 2014-05-22 at the Wayback Machine,, April 18, 2005
  10. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Diva Talk: A Chat with Piazza's Kelli O'Hara Plus News of Menzel, Haran and Lansbury" Archived 2014-05-23 at the Wayback Machine,, August 26, 2005
  11. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Doubt Is Best Play, Spamalot Best Musical; Butz, Irwin, Clark, Jones, Nichols Win 2005 Tonys" Archived 2013-11-04 at the Wayback Machine,, June 5, 2005
  12. ^ "Kelli O'Hara Broadway",, accessed May 7, 2015
  13. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Theater Review. The Pajama Game", The New York Times, February 24, 2006
  14. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Hello, George! Sunday in the Park – with Felciano and O'Hara – Begins Reprise! Run Jan. 30",, January 30, 2007, retrieved November 17, 2017
  15. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Philharmonic's My Fair Lady Dances Into Avery Fisher Hall March 7", Playbill, March 7, 2007, retrieved November 17, 2017
  16. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Kelli O'Hara Returns to South Pacific for Musical's Final Weeks Aug. 10", Playbill, August 10, 2010, retrieved November 17, 2017
  17. ^ Ku, Andrew. "Just the Facts: List of 2008 Tony Award Winners and Nominees",, June 16, 2008, retrieved November 17, 2017
  18. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Expectant O'Hara to Depart South Pacific March 8" Archived 2009-02-03 at the Wayback Machine,, February 2, 2009
  19. ^ Glikas, Bruce. "Welcome Back, Kelli! Broadway Sweetheart O'Hara Returns to South Pacific",, October 15, 2009
  20. ^ Kenrick, John. "Bells Are Ringing Review, November 2010",, accessed May 23, 2014
  21. ^ "Blue Bloods: 'Mercy'",, retrieved December 31, 2016
  22. ^ Blake, Leslie. "Review. Sex and the City 2",, May 26, 2010, retrieved December 31, 2016
  23. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "She Loves Me, a '90s Hit for Roundabout, Gets Benefit Concert Dec. 5; Kelli O'Hara and Josh Radnor Star", Playbill, December 5, 2011
  24. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Updated: Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Rebecca Luker, Kelli O'Hara, Sutton Foster Paid Tribute to Barbara Cook at Kennedy Center Honors",, December 5, 2011
  25. ^ "Kelli O'Hara Broadway Credits and Awards", Playbill, retrieved December 31, 2016
  26. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Celebrating Marvin Hamlisch Concert, with Audra McDonald, Kelli O'Hara, Raúl Esparza, Josh Groban, Will Be Televised",, November 5, 2012
  27. ^ Suskin, Steven. "A Memorable Carousel, Starring Kelli O'Hara and Nathan Gunn", Playbill, March 1, 2013, retrieved December 31, 2016
  28. ^ Bowgen, Philippe. "In Moving Final-Performance Speech, Kelli O'Hara Assures Bridges Is 'By No Means Going Into the Ground'" Archived 2014-05-21 at the Wayback Machine,, May 19, 2014
  29. ^ Sommer, Elyse. "A CurtainUp Review. The Bridges of Madison County",, accessed May 23, 2014
  30. ^ Snetiker, Marc. Broadway star Kelli O'Hara joins Peter Pan Live as Mrs. Darling,, September 9, 2014
  31. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Kelli O'Hara and Matthew Morrison Come Home for the Holidays at Carnegie Hall Starting Tonight", Playbill, December 19, 2014
  32. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Kelli O'Hara, Renée Fleming and Nathan Gunn Star in The Merry Widow; Susan Stroman Directs", Playbill, December 31, 2014, retrieved December 31, 2016
  33. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Exclusive: Marin Mazzie Will Succeed Kelli O'Hara in Broadway's King and I",, February 16, 2016
  34. ^ Dziemianowcz, Joe. "Broadway star Kelli O'Hara shares Carnegie Hall solo debut with Barbara Cook, Kristin Chenoweth and, briefly, Hillary Clinton", New York Daily News, October 31, 2016
  35. ^ Sharma, Nemisha. "Masters Of Sex Season 4 Spoilers: Showtime Show Adds Kelli O'Hara As Bill Masters' Ex-Lover" Archived 2016-12-31 at the Wayback Machine, Design & Trend, August 5, 2016
  36. ^ Green, Jesse. "Review: A Brief ‘Brigadoon’ That’s Almost Like Falling in Love", The New York Times, November 16, 2017
  37. ^ Gerard, Jeremy. "Lerner & Loewe's Golden Brigadoon With Kelli O’Hara and Aasif Mandvi", Deadline Hollywood, November 17, 2017; and Dziemianowicz, Joe. "Encores! Brigadoon glows with Kelli O'Hara, Patrick Wilson, Robert Fairchild: theater review", New York Daily News, November 16, 2017
  38. ^ Gordon, David. [Arian Moayed's The Accidental Wolf, Starring Kelli O'Hara, Premieres Online"], TheaterMania, November 20, 2107, accessed July 15, 2018
  39. ^ Kaufman, Gil. "Emmys 2018: See the Complete List of Nominees", Billboard, July 12, 2018
  40. ^ King, Eric. "13 Reasons Why: Kelli O'Hara, Samantha Logan, more cast in season 2", Entertainment Weekly, August 8, 2017, accessed November 7, 2017
  41. ^ a b McPhee, Ryan. "Kelli O'Hara Will Return to the Metropolitan Opera in 2018 for Cosi fan tutte; New Season Announced",, February 15, 2017, accessed March 1, 2018
  42. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Broadway Revival of The King and I, With Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe, Confirms London Run", Playbill, November 17, 2017
  43. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Kelli O’Hara to Return to Broadway in Kiss Me, Kate", Playbill, November 6, 2017
  44. ^ Clement, Olivia. " Kiss Me, Kate Begins on Broadway February 14", Playbill, February 14, 2019
  45. ^ Hetrick, Adam."Tony Nominee O'Hara and Naughton Welcome a Son",, June 29, 2009
  46. ^ Gioia, Michael. "Kelli O'Hara and Greg Naughton Welcome Baby Girl" Archived 2014-04-13 at the Wayback Machine,, September 16, 2013
  47. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. "Sleeper: Danieley and O'Hara Star in World Premiere Fairy Tale 'Beauty' at La Jolla, Sept. 16-Oct. 19", Playbill, September 13, 2003
  48. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "'Far From Heaven', With Kelli O'Hara, Tests Its Wings in Williamstown Starting July 19" Archived 2012-07-21 at the Wayback Machine,, July 19, 2012
  49. ^ Tommasini, Anthony. "Review: Kelli O'Hara’s Operatic Turn in Dido and Aeneas", The New York Times, April 29, 2016, accessed July 19, 2017
  50. ^ "Read the Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2018 shortlist in full". 2018-11-16. Retrieved 2021-01-17.
  51. ^ Thompson, Jessie (2018-11-19). "Find out the winners of this year's Evening Standard Theatre Awards". Retrieved 2021-01-17.
  52. ^ "Olivier Awards 2019: Full Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. 2019-04-07. Retrieved 2021-01-17.

External links

This page was last edited on 3 July 2021, at 01:45
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