BWW TV: Kelli O'Hara Talks 'BELLS' with Phyllis Newman

By: Nov. 16, 2010
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Bells Are Ringing will open the Encores! 2010-11 season on November 18, 2010. With music by Jule Styne and book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, the production will run through 21, 2010 at New York City Center. Bells Are Ringing is directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall, features music direction by Rob Berman and stars Kelli O'Hara and Will Chase.

Recently, current Bells 'Ella' Kelli O'Hara spoke with Bells alumna Phyllis Newman, the original standby for the role of and wife of Bells creator Adolph Green, about all things Bells and its staying power. BroadwayWorld exclusively brings you highlights of O'Hara and Newman in conversation below!

Kelli O'Hara received her third Tony nomination for her portrayal of Nellie Forbush in South Pacific at Lincoln Center Theater. Audiences also know O'Hara from her previous Broadway roles in The Pajama Game (Tony nomination) with Harry Connick, Jr., The Light in the Piazza (Tony nomination), Follies, Sweet Smell of Success, Jekyll & Hyde and Dracula.

An true entertainment icon, Newman made her Broadway debut in Wish You Were Here in 1952. In addition to Bells Are Ringing, Newman also starred on Broadway in Pleasures and Palaces, The Apple Tree, On the Town, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, Awake and Sing!, Broadway Bound, and Subways Are For Sleeping, for which she won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She has been nominated twice for the Drama Desk Award and received a second Tony nomination for Broadway Bound.

Newman has collaborated with some of theater's most admired talents, most notably Arthur Laurents on the one-woman show The Madwoman of Central Park West, featuring songs by Leonard Bernstein, Jerry Bock, John Kander, Martin Charnin, Betty Comden, Fred Ebb, Sheldon Harnick, Peter Allen, Barry Manilow, Carole Bayer Sager, and Stephen Sondheim, among others. The show ran for 86 performances at the 22 Steps Theatre in New York City.

On television, Newman portrayed Doris Hudson in the CBS summer replacement series Diagnosis: Unknown. She created the role of Rene Buchanan on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live and was a regular on the primetime series 100 Centre Street and the NBC-TV satirical series That Was The Week That Was. Other television credits include The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Burke's Law, ABC Stage 67, thirtysomething, Murder, She Wrote, and Coming of Age. On the big screen, she has appeared in Bye Bye Braverman, The Beautician and the Beast, A Price Above Rubies, and The Human Stain.

In 1995, Newman founded The Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative of The Actors' Fund of America. Since then she has hosted the annual Nothing Like a Dame galas, which have raised more than 3.5 million and has served 2,500 women in the entertainment industry. For her humanitarian efforts, she was awarded the Isabelle Stevenson special Tony Award.

For more information on Phyllis Newman and her life and career, visit or click here to read her "autoblogography."

Bells are Ringing originally opened on Broadway in 1956 at the Shubert Theatre. Some 46 years later, the show, about a lonely woman who falls in love with a man she 'meets' through her answering service, lives on featuring Dylan Baker, Bobby Cannavale, Will Chase, Judy Kaye, Kelli O'Hara, Brad Oscar, David Pittu, Danny Rutigliano, Jeffrey Schecter and John C. Vennema, with Clyde Alves, Meggie Cansler, Andrew Cao, Niffer Clarke, Rachel Coloff, Jack Doyle, Leah Edwards, Kimberly Fauré, Marya Grandy, Michael Halling, Max Kumangai, Alyse Alan Louis, Michael Marcotte, Shina Ann Morris, Kevin Munhall, William Ryall, Jennifer Savelli, Anthony Wayne, J.D. Webster and Anna Aimee White.

Bells Are Ringing plays Thursday, November 18 and Friday, November 19 at 8 p.m., Saturday, November 20 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday, November 21 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for Encores! 2010-11 are available at the New York City Center Box Office (West 55th Street between 6th and 7th avenues), through CityTix® at 212-581-1212, or online at Tickets for the Orchestra, Grand Tier and Mid-Mezzanine are $100; tickets for the Rear Mezzanine and Front Gallery are $50; tickets for the Rear Gallery are $25.