Interview: Kerry O'Malley SINGing HAPPY Again With Kritzerland

By: Aug. 07, 2020
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Interview: Kerry O'Malley SINGing HAPPY Again With Kritzerland

Kritzerland will present its 108th show SING HAPPY! THE SONGS OF KANDER & EBB as a benefit for Group Rep this Sunday August 9, 2020 at 5p PST via their Facebook and YouTube pages. This tribute to legendary composers John Kander and Fred Ebb (hosted by its incomparably witty producer Bruce Kimmel and co-produced by Doug Haverty) will feature Brent Barrett, Debbie Gravitte, Peyton Kirkner, Karen Mason, Kerry O'Malley, Hartley Powers, Jennifer Simard, Sami Staitman, Adrienne Stiefel, Robert Yacko and Karen Ziemba.

I got the chance to ask of few queries of Kerry, who in Kritzerland #107 performed a show-stopping duet with herself in a tongue-twisting, speed-singing "All For The Best" from GODSPELL. Simply brilliant!

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Kerry!

Soooo, how are you keeping creative and sane being safer-at-home?

I have been auditioning, tutoring a friend in U.S. History, recording songs for Bruce, doing research for an upcoming project, and doing a ton of volunteering on political campaigns.

Are you mastering the new normal medium of Zoom?

It seems like I am on Zoom almost all day every day. I think I have a pretty good handle on it! And oh, how I long to see people in person!

This benefit concert for Group Rep will be Kritzerland's 108th show. How many of these have you done before?

I have lost count of how many I have done! Not as many as Robert Yacko, who is the King of Kritzerland, but more than ten! My first was as a special guest star, and I sang "As Long As He Needs Me." Bruce has been kind enough to keep me in the fold since then and I always say yes if I am available!

What keeps bringing you back to Bruce Kimmel and his Kritzerland shows?

I love this merry troupe of players. I love singing live and I take any opportunity to do so in L.A., and Bruce always gives me great songs. I am very grateful to have been able to sing at Michael Sterling's club Upstairs at the Federal and now at Feinstein's Upstairs at Vitello's!

Interview: Kerry O'Malley SINGing HAPPY Again With Kritzerland Being an Angelean, do you have any history with Group Rep?

I did not, I have only been an audience member, but have seen several delightful shows there.

This 108th Kritzerland show will be a tribute concert to Kander & Ebb. Do you know what songs you will be singing?

I am singing "So What" and the title song from CABARET, and doing the duet of "The Grass is Always Greener" with the brilliant Jennifer Simard.

What's your favorite Kander & Ebb song?

Maybe "And the World Goes Round." It's a tough call. There are just so many to choose from.

What was your go-to audition song in your early pounding the pavement days?

I used to do "What Did I Have That I Don't Have" a lot. Also "Hold On" from THE SECRET GARDEN. They both suit my voice very well.

You've worked with some of Broadway's most talented directors. Would you tell us what was the most important tip/direction you learned/received from them?

Walter Bobbie: A master of comedic timing and getting an audience's focus and keeping it. I adored every minute of working with him on WHITE CHRISTMAS. It is one of my happiest memories in the theater, doing that show! And he was great about teaching people to be still for the punchline. I did my first spit take on stage in WHITE CHRISTMAS.

Stephen Daldry: Always said to keep things real, real, real.

Graciela Daniele: I was a replacement in ANNIE GET YOUR GUN and didn't actually get to work with her.

Interview: Kerry O'Malley SINGing HAPPY Again With Kritzerland James Lapine: Taught me how to look at things with a different eye, instead of just through the character's eyes or through my own eyes, but with a whole new appreciation for visual storytelling.

Rob Marshall: Gave me the great gift of his confidence in me. He told me at my final audition that I had booked the job, and he told me that he believed in me and that he knew that I was going to be great. That was such a gift, because it meant that I stepped into the rehearsal room confident that he believed in me, and that I deserved to be there, and that he knew I would live up to his hopes for me. It was very freeing and powerful. I wonder why more directors don't do that for their performers.

Michael Mayer: A thrill to watch work because his mind moves so quickly. It was great to watch him see a problem and be five steps ahead in fixing it. I loved watching him solve problems!

Which is more gratifying to you, reaching an audience performing as yourself in a cabaret setting? Or as a scripted character?

I hate to be wishy-washy on this, but I like to do everything. I love the simplicity of simply being yourself on a stage with a microphone and telling a story through song, not relying on sets and costumes and lighting to tell the story, but the simplicity of the words and music. That feels very powerful. But I also adore creating a character and living in someone else's skin for a while.

Financial compensation aside, which medium would you prefer expressing yourself in - stage, film or television?

I love the medium of acting for the camera because of the simplicity and truthfulness and craft it requires. There are some great characters on television! But I find that the characters for women over 40 tend to better on the stage. I also truly love getting to live in something for a couple of hours straight on stage. In TV and film, you only get to act for minutes at a time over very long days. It is just a different skill set and I am very grateful for the opportunity to do it all.

Was it fate or intentional that you got to act with your brother in The Mike O'Malley Show and now Snowpiercer?

Interview: Kerry O'Malley SINGing HAPPY Again With Kritzerland The Mike O'Malley Show, he had written a role for a sister, but I had to audition and test just like everybody else! On that one, it really helped that he was on the creative team and could vouch for me. On Snowpiercer, the casting director didn't know that we were related! So, that one was a bit of a fluke! It was great to get to do it with him, although we worked very little together. He was actually there on my first and last days of filming, though, and that made me so happy. He is so great to act opposite, he is so present and alive and always puts a spin on things that keeps you on your toes and really listening. I love working with him. And he is an absolute blast to be around on set. I hope I get to do another show that he has written, because his writing is sensational and I love getting to act his words.

I must tell you, I ran into your brother at some Hollywood event years ago and got totally dumbstruck. I so wanted to tell him his portrayal of Kurt's father Burt Hummel on Glee had me crying buckets of joyous tears. Would you pass on my belated thank you to him for being the ideal TV father?

I absolutely will! He will love this! It is wonderful to know how meaningful that character was to so many people.

Any projects are you hoping will come to fruition for you when entertainment production resumes?

I was slated to play John Dickinson in Diane Paulus and Jeffrey Page's production of 1776 at the American Repertory Theater and the Roundabout. We are all heartbroken that we aren't doing it right now, and we fervently wish for the theaters to opens again once it is safe to do so!

Thank you again, Kerry! I look forward to livestreaming your Kritzerland concert this Sunday.

Thank you! It's a pleasure!

To livestream this Kander & Ebb tribute this Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 5:00 pm (PST), log onto


The event is FREE. Donations to the Group Rep gratefully accepted.