SPOTLIGHT ON NY POPS: Kelli O'Hara

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From her creation of the pivotal roles of Susan in Marvin Hamlisch & Craig Carnelia's simply smashing (if underappreciated) SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS and Clara in Adam Guettel & Craig Lucas's five-time Tony-winning THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA, to her effortless essaying of two of the most beloved female roles in the musical theater canon, opposite two of the biggest leading men on Broadway - THE PAJAMA GAME with Harry Connick, Jr. and SOUTH PACIFIC with Matthew Morrison (and Paulo Szot) - in addition to her work in Frank Wildhorn's JEKYLL & HYDE and DRACULA, Stephen Sondheim's FOLLIES and SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, along with her stunning studio albums - all of these are just some of the reasons why Kelli O'Hara is in a very special class of performers. In this all-encompassing conversation we discuss all of the aforementioned shows, as well as working with all of her fabulous co-stars and collaborators, and we also take a look at her recording studio work with Harry Connick, Jr. and take a look ahead to her sophomore solo album, ALWAYS which will be released on June 3. Plus, we have first news on her new roles in the musical versions of THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, written by Jason Robert Brown, and FINDING NEVERLAND by Scott Frankel. We even have dish on working with Liza Minnelli and shooting SEX & THE CITY 2! This is all coming in anticipation of the tribute to Bob Hope at the NY Pops gala on May 2, which will also feature performances by Tom Wopat and Aaron Lazar - both of whom we will continue our SPOTLIGHT ON NY POPS series with later on this weekend. Don't miss them or a special presentation by theatre legend Angela Lansbury! Further information about the NY POPS event - including tickets - is available here.

For Kelli

PC: SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS is one of the great scores of the new century and your performance and that show were both unforgettable.

KO: Oh, thank you, thank you. That's so sweet of you.

PC: Can you tell me what the journey of that show was from Chicago to Broadway? I know the original version was vastly different - one act and with Susan winning out in the end.

KO: Yeah, yeah - it changed a lot. You know, that show was so close to my heart and it's a very specific part of my history because it changed me a lot as a performer. If I could go back and do anything differently, I would probably go back to that show and put what I know now into that performance. It was just the kind of show that got out of hand, with just the opinions around it, and it lost focus. I always feel like that if I could have put more focus on it with the more experience I have now, I might have been able to make it better. But, you know, we can't go back and change things.

PC: So it was mostly a learning experience for you?

KO: Yes, I certainly learned a lot from doing that show. I think it had great potential and I'm sorry it didn't do better - I was always sad that it wasn't a bigger success.

PC: I interviewed Marvin Hamlisch for this column and he spoke about how proud he is of the score. The structure and the storytelling devices are quite inventive and interesting.

KO: Yeah, I think it was a well-written show. I think the material itself, the performances, and the people that they had working on it - and John Lithgow, Brian D'Arcy James - I was just so honored! I cannot even tell you how excited I was to get that job - it was my first, you know, big role.

PC: Creating a role in a new musical, as well.

KO: Yeah, it was such a great opportunity. (Pause.) But, when you have something like that that seems so golden, there can get to be too many cooks in the kitchen, you know what I mean?

PC: Definitely. The cast album, as well, is marvelously produced, and Marvin and I discussed the necessity to adapt it to record much more than the normal show, given the structure.

KO: Yeah, I totally remember that because it was one of the first things I ever recorded. I remember hearing it and going, "Wow, that sounds like a real CD!" You know, the production value of it? Wow.

PC: Big wow.

KO: It was Sony and it was very well-produced. We recorded that after we opened, so I think people knew the outcome of the show, so they really wanted to respect Marvin and Craig's music and lyrics and making it the best it could be for the people who, you know, are hearing it and were never able to see it because it closed so soon after we opened.

PC: What challenges do creating a role pose versus a role in a revival? You've done pretty much half and half at this point, but more revivals recently.

KO: Yes, after PIAZZA, I've done a lot of revivals. It just so happened that two in a row happenedSPOTLIGHT ON NY POPS: Kelli O'Haraon Broadway and it kind of make me looks like the revival queen!

PC: That's not a bad thing, though!

KO: (Laughs.) I so prefer to have a role and create it and find my own voice in it - there's nothing like that. (Pause.) It's a little scarier because you don't even have a stepping off point, but, at the same time, there is nothing to compare you to, so, maybe it's safer that way in the long run. That's what I'm looking to do next - a new role.

PC: So originating the role of Susan was not too easy for you?

KO: It was a daunting task at the time to play Susan only because I knew that it was a particular role that was hard to: A, cast; and, B, hard to figure out for the writers. In fact, I'm not sure if it was ever figured out. But, I did the best I could with it. As I said, sometimes I think that if I could go back I would have had more to say about it to them.

PC: Do you think Susan should have won in the end - outsmarting JJ, like she did in Chicago - or did you prefer the Broadway ending?

KO: I think the way that it happened in Chicago - people liked it like that. I think for me - for a woman, and the way I felt as a strong woman - I definitely liked the original ending better where she gets the best of him. She says, you know, "You can't control me. You don't own me. I'm gonna live my life!" - because that would have been more in keeping with who I am and what I feel a woman can do. So, I'm sorry it didn't end that way on Broadway.

PC: "I Cannot Hear The City (Reprise)" is one of my favorite tracks ever. You are absolutely fantastic with that.

KO: Aww, that's so great! You know, I haven't listened to that in a long time - I'm not a big listener to my old stuff. I do need to remind myself of some things sometimes, because I really did love that score and I love that period. When I am with John and Brian and people from that cast, we do have fond memories of our experience and we've definitely stayed in touch and stayed friends. It was a very important experience in the entire spectrum of things for me.

PC: You have also done two of the greatest scores ever written for the theatre with FOLLIES and SOUTH PACIFIC. Was it daunting to take on shows with those kind of legacies?

KO: Well, you know, in one way, you feel like doing it is such an honoring thing to do - I mean, you feel so proud to be a part of something so iconic. And, then, to be making it right again and making it whole again so people can actually see it - because, you know, most people grew up hearing the stories of something like SOUTH PACIFIC from their parents and their grand-parents. I think that to be a part of it is such a special thing, but the daunting task comes from wanting it to be so good and wanting it to be everything it should be.

PC: High standards.

KO: Yeah, paying homage to the original version of it, but, also, bringing your own spin to it in a way that people will accept it, but, also, see it in a different light. For SOUTH PACIFIC, we were in such good hands with Bart Sher directing it. We weren't going to make it something different for deferent's sake, we were just going to try to respect the material - and we did that.

PC: What did you do to prepare to play Nellie?

KO: Oh, we went back and we read the original scripts by John Logan and the original novels by James Michener.

PC: That's really impressive research.

KO: Yeah, I think that we got down to the serious subject matter a little bit more than the original had because I think for this day and age we are ready to hear about it more and have it in-your-face. And, I feel like that made the difference between the old one and the new one. So, I was very proud of that research - it really gave the show a purpose.

PC: And the television capture was simply exquisite. One of the very best filmed productions of all time - in HD, no less.

KO: Yeah, I think we were all pretty surprised at how intimate all the cameras were able to get. You know, we didn't change much of our performance except maybe we'd get a note to, "Please move a little more to your right during this." But, we didn't really change the intimacy of it. What surprised me was that it comes across as more intimate. You know, usually when you film a stage production it comes across as really stagey - but, I think because of the way they did the camera angles and because of that thrust stage at Lincoln they were able to really get in there and show you different angles. And, I was actually really proud of that aspect of it.

PC: I wish they did it this year so it could have been broadcast in theaters like they are doing with COMPANY.

KO: Oh, I know! I heard that they are doing that. That is just amazing.

PC: Tell me about working with Harry Connick, Jr. - I particularly love the SONGS FROM THOU SHALT NOT album you did with him. We spoke about it a lot when he did this column.

KO: Oh, again, that's another one I haven't revisited in a very long time. I just don't listen to a lot of the things I did because, you know, they are forever and you can't change them, so it's hard to listen because then you just want to nit-pick them. But, I remember making that album, of course, when we made THE PAJAMA GAME album. And, that production was an absolute blast.

PC: You two - wow, what chemistry!

KO: (Laughs.) It was an amazing, amazing time. (Pause.) It just really kind of made me feel like I grew a lot and I went to a different level of performance just to be performing with him - just because he performs in such a different way. There's no fear - he just knows what he does. He's just brilliant at it. You just kind of go along. If you can't keep up, you have to get out of the kitchen, you know what I mean? (Laughs.)

PC: And he does it all, too.

KO: Yes, he does. So, I just tried to keep up and did I everything I could to do that. I ended up feeling really great about what we did. I think we both - and all of us that worked on that show - look back on that as a really fun, special moment in all of our careers.

PC: What about "Wonder In The World" that he wrote for you?

KO: Yeah, he wrote that for my album. When we decided to make that album, we had made THE PAJAMA GAME album with the THOU SHALT NOT as a kind of B-side album. We did the TODAY SHOW and that day the head of Sony called and they said they wanted to offer me a record deal.

PC: No way!

KO: It was an amazing thing.

SPOTLIGHT ON NY POPS: Kelli O'HaraPC: So was the process of recording it that easy?

KO: It was just a dream. And, Harry produced and played and wrote a lot of things for it. He arranged everything. We ended up doing a lot of covers - in the end. After a while, the record industry changed and Sony didn't release it, though. I ended up getting it back - and, that was very nice - and I released it through Ghostlight Records here in New York working with some great friends of mine. That ended up being kind of great because I could handle that myself. But, the making of the album was so special because, like I said, the musicians were all the musicians Harry works with, so I was working with the absolute, most brilliant musicians that you could ever, ever possibly imagine. And, it was really kind of an album that was just made out of absolute fun. It showed a lot of different sides of me. I love it.

PC: How is your new album ALWAYS going to be different?

KO: I am releasing the new one on June 3 and it is going to be a lot different. It is going to be more representative of what I am doing right now in my solo shows - so there will be more theatre music. I wouldn't say that my first album way pop-y by any means, but we definitely did kind of mainstream it based on what was desired at the time from the record company. But, on this album, I wanted to show more of what I had been doing in my life: which is, singing from my heart and singing good theatre music by composers of yesterday and today. So, it's going to be an eclectic sort of mix between my albums because you'll have some songs from the old one and some from the new one if you come and see my live shows.

PC: Your recording of "And So It Goes" on the first album is one of my favorite Billy Joel covers ever.

KO: Aww, thank you so much.

PC: Is "Honesty" next? Please?

KO: Oh, I love that song (Sings.) "Honesty".

PC: What about "Just The Way You Are"?

KO: Yup. I used to sing that song when I was a teenager! (Laughs.) I love that song.

PC: Robbie Rozelle did some great design work for your new album, as well. He always does a great job.

KO: He did! He did all the artwork - and it's so beautiful! To be honest, I didn't really get to do any of that on my first album because we just kind of released the tracks. But, on this one, I get to have a booklet and say thank you to people and I get to thank my wonderful musicians. Harry wrote the foreword on it because he was so involved in my first album, too, so he did it as an act of support for me. It has some fun pictures of my band and me, too. So, I'm really excited to have it all as the whole package because I always wanted to do that.

PC: The song list on your new album is awesome. First, "Finishing The Hat"? I am waiting with abated breath!

KO: Oh, right! (Laughs.) You know, it's a hard one to record because the song itself - to me, it's one of the most powerful songs ever written - but, you really have to know what the context is: and, I'm not talking about him drawing a hat and painting. I'm actually talking about the real context, which is: losing sight of the world because you are so busy and so into your art and your passion that the world almost passes you by. Your love or whatever is somewhere out the window - it's almost like the world is just happening around you. It's like Sondheim - if you can imagine him - saying, "I am so involved and passionate about my work that maybe the world will pass me by if I, basically, don't wake up and grab it."

PC: Indeed.

KO: That's definitely what the song means to me - especially being a working mother who is trying to balance everything right now. When I do it in my one-woman-show, I think it comes off a little bit more powerfully because there is that context. We did record it for this new album and it's a great, new arrangement with my band and I'm really proud of it.

PC: What about your recent appearance in SEX & THE CITY 2? What was that experience like shooting?

KO: (Laughs.) It was great! It was a blast. Are you kidding me? One of the reasons it was a blast was one of the days I was shooting is the day Liza was wrapping. That was such a blast.

PC: What was Liza like?

KO: She's so amazing. She even did a farewell song for the entire cast and crew! I still have it on my iPhone - I actually videoed it!

PC: What did she sing?

KO: Oh, my gosh! I can't even remember! I have to look. She just happened to have Billy Stritch there at a grand piano. (Laughs.)

PC: A quintessential Liza moment!

KO: It really was! And, the swans from the wedding scene were dancing around her and floating around her, too. You know, it was kind of the most amazing, like, little happened-to-be moment. Everybody had their iPhones and their phones up - even Cynthia Nixon and Sarah Jessica Parker were videoing it with their phones.

PC: That's so funny.

KO: Yeah, it was a pretty amazing moment. We filmed the part I was in right after that and it was so fun to do. It was a great experience.

PC: And, Norm Lewis? Mario Cantone?

KO: Yeah! Yeah! They are both amazing guys - they are so fun. Plus, of course, they made me feel so comfortable because they are from my world, so we all kind of huddled together. It's like, you know, "Hey, how you doin'? Can't believe I'm seeing you here!" We were all kind of in this other world from film-life.

PC: Speaking of your soundstage work: ALL MY CHILDREN was just cancelled and on that was your first TV role, yes?

KO: Was that my first TV role? Hmm. (Pause.) Yes, it was probably one of them. It was funny because I don't watch the show, so I didn't know quite what to expect. It was actually the first lesbian kiss on a soap opera; my scene.

PC: What was filming that like?

KO: (Laughs.) Well... it was fun. The crew seemed to be more interested than usual, though!

PC: That's hilarious.

KO: They were all sitting around staring! It was just a fun couple of days. But, I think experiencing everything is important.

PC: How do you look back on DRACULA? You were gorgeous in it - and fearless.

KO: Soap opera to DRACULA - maybe that wasn't such a good year! (Laughs.)

PC: Were you nervous about the risqué role?

KO: It was all an experience. It was very liberating - to do a show like that and to take my clothes off. I love doing anything - I have to say, at first, I was a little skeptical. After I did it for a while, I ended up having a blast. I think the show tried to be creative in many ways and failed in a lot of others. I remember it as a pretty positive experience and I had a good time. You know, the thing about being an actor is that you are not going to do something that makes sense to everybody every time you work.

PC: Of course not.

KO: The things that you do that are different for yourself kind of add to everything else.

PC: So it was a worthwhile detour.

KO: Yeah, I mean, to be honest: I loved the people in the show and I got to wear six-inch-heels and levitate! I got to wear yellow contacts and big, huge vampire teeth. It was awesome!

PC: Tom Hewitt spoke so favorably about working with you to me when he did this column.

KO: Well, Tom Hewitt is an angel! He is absolutely the most professional, wonderful guy. And, he protected me. You know, I had to get naked every night and he was the only person who viewed me, so it became a very special relationship because he was very protective of me. I will never forget that experience because we are all in it together and we either help each other or we don't and I just love Tom.

PC: He's such a smart guy.

KO: He's treated me with the utmost respect and I always told him I was glad it was him rather any anybody else. He's the best.

SPOTLIGHT ON NY POPS: Kelli O'HaraPC: Tell me about working with Matthew Morrison on THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA. What a benchmark piece of theatre.

KO: Yeah, that was it. That was it. Amazing. Exquisite. Brilliant. That's how the whole experience felt to me to be there. I was just incredibly lucky to be there. You know, I took a long, long journey with that show.

PC: Can you trace the journey for me?

KO: Well, I was in the very first workshop of it at Sundance. I wasn't playing the lead, I was playing Franca.

PC: And you felt it worthy to stick with after that?

KO: That show just lived with me for five years. I was just so lucky to be a part of any of it. And, Matt - when he came onboard there was no question that he was the "It Boy" and he would be a huge star. I love him so much and I couldn't be happier for anybody for all his success. The fact that we shared that show together means so much to me because we were basically babies and it was a very special time for us to start to learn who we were in working.

PC: What about Victoria Clark?

KO: Vicki was our leader. She led us all in the most beautiful and eloquent way. She was a true, true star and a leader. That show is hers and that show is her - she made it what it was. (Pause.) Like I said, I was just glad to go along for the ride.

PC: It's a shame that neither show you and Matt have done together has been filmed with you together in them - neither SOUTH PACIFIC nor THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA - even though both productions were eventually filmed and aired on PBS.

KO: Yeah, they filmed PIAZZA for PBS once we both left. It's a shame that they wait so long to do those because you almost never get the original cast. I always think of SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE and how they have Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters and how amazing that is and how influential that was to me to just be able to see that. So, when I think about the LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA filming, I always get so sad because it was done after I had left - and I was actually supposed to come down and do it, but PAJAMA GAME got extended a week and I couldn't do it. But, even so, I wouldn't have been able to do it with Matt because he was already in California.

PC: Think of how many DVDs they could sell if either one was available with you two on them now - it just wasn't meant to be.

KO: I'd like to think so, too! I'd just like to have a memory of it. There are random things on YouTube of us, but a permanent record would have been nice to have.

PC: What do you think of bootlegs of things you've been in appearing on YouTube?

KO: Well, as you probably have gotten the idea that I don't really look or watch myself that much - watching myself is just one of those things that makes me feel kind of icky. You think, "Oh, gosh, I don't wanna see that!" because you want to remember it the way you remember it and not the way you see it now and what you wish you could change or what was different. But, I am glad - at the same time, I am really glad - that they exist. They are memories for other people. I mean, I can show my child someday or my grandkids. When I do see a clip on accident or something, there's this wash of amazing feelings. You have to remember, it's not just a show but it's also a time in our lives when all these things were happening. It makes me feel good that they exist.

PC: YouTube has clips of your entire career onstage. From JEKYLL & HYDE to FOLLIES toSPOTLIGHT ON NY POPS: Kelli O'HaraDRACULA to PIAZZA to...

KO: Yeah, a little bit of everything! Believe me, I am so grateful for it all. I guess people don't want things to be recorded because, I guess, it takes away from the special qualities of live performance - but, at the same time, if no one ever recorded theatre, we would have no record of our lives. You think about film and television and audio recordings - with records - and you think about how those things are preserved for history, but, in theatre, there is no preservation unless there are these little bootleg tapes. So, in a way, I guess we are all grateful to have that preserved in some way.

PC: What about some other roles you‘ve done: Dot in SUNDAY?

KO: Well, listen: I think, in just casting, I would not be chosen to play Dot any other time - but, Jason Alexander had this crazy idea and I am so glad he did. I mean, I talked about SUNDAY IN THE PARK a little while ago: it is one of the most amazing shows, in my mind, especially as far as telling so many things besides what it actually looks like it's telling. It's got so many layers - Sondheim is so brilliant that way. Getting to play Dot was just amazing. You know, vocally or whatever, it was very different for me; but, getting to play the role and be a part of such a show was so moving to me. (Pause.) So, I loved, loved, loved that experience.

PC: In the future, would you consider Mary in MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG? You could really be interesting in that. It seems like destiny for you to do it someday soon.

KO: Oh, that's so sweet! You know, I never really knew that show as much for some reason. It's funny, because, like, I knew all the Rodgers & Hammerstein shows except for SOUTH PACIFIC and, then, I did SOUTH PACIFIC! So, I know all the Sondheim ones, but MERRILY is not one I knew that well really. I am a Sondheim lover, and, so, any opportunity to do anything with one of his scores is just amazing to me. I would never shut the door on anything like that. I do love several things from the score. I would definitely consider it.

PC: Can you tell me about the NY Pops tribute to Bob Hope coming up on Monday? What do you think of the life and career Angela Lansbury? Have you worked together before?

KO: She's so amazing. What a lovely woman. We never actually worked together on a show, but we've done the Kennedy Center Honors and little benefits and galas together. I would kill to work with her in anything. I just think she is one of the most lovely women. She has shown up backstage at a couple of things I have done and when she enters the dressing room you feel like God has walked in, you know what I mean? (Laughs.)

PC: I know what you mean.

KO: She is just so, so amazing. An inspiration. She is one of the good divas - one of the ones that comes from yesterday and are still carrying the torch. You kind of feel like you are being anointed if she comes around to you. We won't be singing together this time, but I am proud to be singing at the same event she will be participating in.

PC: Tell me about what we can expect from the NY Pops gala.

KO: Oh, this whole event is going to be really neat. There are a lot of really great people singing in it.

PC: What are you performing?

KO: I am doing a duet with Aaron Lazar on "Two Sleepy People" from the movie THANKS FOR THE MEMORY. Frank Loesser and Hoagy Carmichael wrote it. We're doing it at the very beginning.

PC: What a great choice for you two. What do you think of the song?

KO: You know, it's not a showy song - it's a very sleepy song. It's got that old-fashioned kind of groove - I just love songs like that.

PC: How interesting you will be re-teaming with your LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA co-star Aaron Lazar - you had very different chemistry onstage with him versus Matt. Can you describe that?

KO: Well, they were light-years different from each other. It was hard to get used to one versus the other. I mean, after Matt left, it was hard to make the transition, but they were both so beautiful in their roles in very different ways. I remember after a couple of weeks just melting into Aaron's version.

PC: What were the specific differences you remember between them?

KO: Matt was much more charismatic and boyishly masculine. Aaron was much sweeter and more sentimental. So, they both belonged in the role totally, but just in very different ways. That's the great thing about that role - that there can be different versions of the same man who could fall for this girl. You know: the young, boyish, playful type; and, then, the very sensitive, romantic type. They both brought so much beauty to the role. They sang it very differently. It was a great experience for me because it changed my way of playing the role and that's great for an actress and helps you keep it fresh.

PC: David Burnham brought a completely different take to it, as well.

KO: Yeah, he brought an entirely different take to it, too. He was so much like a cute little puppy. I always thought of him that way. (Laughs.) He was so youthful and silly - especially with Clara. Matt was more bravado and masculine so there was a real heat and with Aaron there was a romance and sensitivity and with David Burnham there was that puppy love. It works equally well in all three aspects, but they are just very different. I am so lucky with all the guys I get to work with - they are so talented and beautiful.

SPOTLIGHT ON NY POPS: Kelli O'HaraPC: Do you watch GLEE?

KO: Yeah! I record them, so I am a little behind right now. But, I like to catch up so when I see Matt I can make fun of him a little bit. (Laughs.)

PC: Cheyenne Jackson is on the show now, sporadically, as well.

KO: Oh, I know! He and Matt are friends in real life - we all are; like a big family - so it will be fun to see them as rivals on the show. Cheyenne gave me all the scoop! (Laughs.)

PC: It's so astonishing to see how far you three have come in ten years. FOLLIES until now...

KO: Exactly! Isn't it? Speaking of FOLLIES, actually, we are having a whole FOLLIES reunion in a couple of weeks with the cast and everyone. Things like that are so much fun because you can stay close and you can reunite from time to time. That will be a lot of fun.

PC: What was the first cast album you remember buying?

KO: Oh my gosh! I don't think I ever bought one. I grew up in a place where I really didn't know about that. My mom probably had SOUTH PACIFIC, though. I, more than anything, watched movies, though. I remember watching OKLAHOMA, CAROUSEL and SOUND OF MUSIC for the first time.

PC: What was the first movie musical you remember seeing?

KO: I remember seeing OKLAHOMA when I was four because I was from Oklahoma. (Laughs.)

PC: What was the first Broadway show you remember seeing?

KO: Oh, the first one I saw was MASTER CLASS. It was the first time I came to New York. I saw MASTER CLASS with Audra McDonald and Dixie Carter.

PC: What are the top songs on your iPod right now?

KO: Oh, gosh, probably the things I am trying to learn! "Two Sleepy People" for Carnegie Hall.

PC: What do you listen to to relax? Talk radio?

KO: I do, actually! I listen to NPR a lot, lot, lot of the time. But, to unwind I like to put on old music like Frank or Ella or Nat King Cole - that's what I listen to mostly.

PC: What's on your DVR list?

KO: GLEE, of course. But, my current favorites are TOP CHEF and PARENTHOOD.

PC: What was your favorite film of last year?

KO: I loved THE KING'S SPEECH, but I loved THE FIGHTER, too.

PC: Christian Bale was unbelievable.

KO: Oh, yeah. Christian Bale was ridiculous! A crack-head, skinny, dark-eyed, methamphetamine-d-out weirdo. He was brilliant.

PC: Define collaboration.

KO: Collaboration for me means: very talented minds coming together to feed off of each other'sSPOTLIGHT ON NY POPS: Kelli O'Haratalents to make a whole; a really wonderful, brilliant whole.

PC: What's next?

KO: The ALWAYS album comes out June 3. Then, I have two or three Broadway musicals lined up and I have to decide which one I want to do first.

PC: Can you give me a leak?

KO: Yeah, I guess I can give you a leak! There is one called THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY by Jason Robert Brown and the other is FINDING NEVERLAND by Scott Frankel. There is another one, too, but I don't think I can talk about that one.

PC: What is the score for MADISON COUNTY like?

KO: One of the songs from it that is not even a song of my character's is on my new album. It is an awesome song called "Another Life".

PC: Can you give me a teeny tiny preview?

KO: (Sings.) "Put inside the picture frame, some tables and a coffee pot / A uniform, a girl of 23..."

PC: Sounds ravishing. You've done two of the best original scores of the 21st century - SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS and THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA. Comparatively, how is this score for BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY?

KO: It's beautiful. It's really, really beautiful.

PC: As good as those two?

KO: Yes, it is. It is very different, though - it is very earthy and even has a little country sound to it a bit, but that's really in keeping with the piece. It's really, really beautiful.

PC: Who is your male co-star?

KO: We don't know yet! We don't know yet.

PC: Ideally?

KO: It's gonna be a very hard part to cast! He should be mysterious but humble and hot and wonderful. So, I think the search is on right now.

PC: I am so happy for you to be doing another original role sometime soon. This was amazing. You are amazing.

KO: Thank you so much, Pat. This was so great. Bye bye.

 

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Pat Cerasaro Pat Cerasaro is BroadwayWorld's Chief Interviewer and Senior Editor, contributing exclusive columns including InDepth InterViews, Sound Off, Flash Fridays as well as additional special features and extensive news coverage. His work for the site has appeared in The New York Times, US Weekly, The Biography Channel, NBC and more.


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