Exclusive Podcast: LITTLE KNOWN FACTS with Ilana Levine- featuring Kelli O'Hara
BroadwayWorld has teamed up with Broadway alum Ilana Levine, who makes her entrance onto the podcast stage with her new show Little Known Facts. Ilana's unique brand of celebrity interview, "Podcast Vérité," is unfiltered, raw, honest and uniquely funny.
Tony Award winner Kelli O'Hara is one of Broadway's most celebrated leading ladies. Born and raised in Oklahoma, Kelli spent most of her childhood on her family's cattle farm. A serendipitous move to another town while in high school offered Kelli a new beginning, one in which she immersed herself in the arts. She never looked back. An interest in opera began her lifelong relationship with vocal teacher Florence Birdwell. (Ms. Birdwell had taught another actress from Oklahoma, Kristin Chenoweth. Indeed it was Kristin Chenoweth who introduced Kelli to her first agent in New York City.) Small parts led to bigger ones; eventually a leading role in the national tour of "Jekyll and Hyde" followed. Kelli then made her Broadway debut as a replacement in the musical horror-drama loosely based on the novella by Robert Louis Stevenson. In her conversation with Ilana, Kelli discusses how there were times when she thought perhaps she had landed the role that would be her big break, but it was not to be. Ironically, it was a bit of luck that found her in California when the workshop of a new musical called "Light in the Piazza" was being cast. It was that workshop that led to the Lincoln Center production that made Kelli O'Hara a Broadway star. From farm girl to Tony Award winning actress, Kelli O'Hara shares her amazing story with Ilana on this episode of "Little Known Facts!"
Kelli O'Hara has unequivocally established herself as one of Broadway's great leading ladies. Her portrayal of Anna Leonowens in the critically acclaimed revival of "The King and I" recently garnered her a Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical, along with Drama League and Outer Critics nominations. In 2014, her performance as Francesca in the musical adaptation of "The Bridges of Madison County" earned her Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle nominations. Also that year, she starred as Mrs. Darling in NBC's live telecast of "Peter Pan" alongside Allison Williams and Christian Borle, and on New Year's Eve, Kelli made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the production of "The Merry Widow" with Renee Fleming.
A native of Oklahoma, Kelli received a degree in opera, and after winning the State Metropolitan Opera Competition, moved to New York and enrolled in the Lee Strasberg Institute. She made her Broadway debut in "Jekyll & Hyde" and followed it with Sondheim's "Follies," "Sweet Smell of Success" opposite John Lithgow, and "Dracula." In 2003 Kelli committed to a production of "The Light in the Piazza" at Seattle's Intiman Theatre. The show landed on Broadway in 2005 and earned Kelli her first Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations. She moved from one critical and commercial success to another when she joined Harry Connick on Broadway in the 2006 Tony award-winning production of "The Pajama Game," for which Kelli received Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Award nominations. Kelli starred in the Tony Award-winning revival of "South Pacific" at Lincoln Center, enrapturing audiences and critics alike with her soulful and complex interpretation of Nellie Forbush, and garnering Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Award nominations. She later teamed up with Matthew Broderick in Broadway's musical comedy "Nice Work if You Can Get it," earning Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League and Outer Critics Circle nominations, as well as the Fred Astaire Nomination for dance.
Among her film and television credits are "Sex & The City 2," Martin Scorsese's short "The Key to Reserva" opposite Simon Baker; "The Dying Gaul," "Blue Bloods" (NBC pilot), "All Rise" (NBC pilot), "Alexander Hamilton" (Maria Reynolds) starring Brian F. O'Byrne (PBS), "NUMB3RS" (CBS), "All My Children," the animated series "Car Talk," and numerous live performances on national television shows.
Kelli currently resides in New York City.