Welcome to Simply Kelli, a fansite dedicated to Kelli O'hara.
Simply KelliMobile version
November 27, 2018 By simplyk   Comments Off on Kelli O’Hara on Her Emotional The King and I West End Reunion, and What She Has Learned From Anna Uncategorized

Three years after Kelli O’Hara took the stage in The King and I on Broadway, American audiences will have a chance to see her Tony-winning performance as Anna Leonowens once again. On November 29 and December 4, film distributor Trafalgar Releasing is screening a taped version of O’Hara and Ken Watanabe’s performances in the London Palladium production of the musical in movie theaters across the U.S. Ahead of the film’s release, Vulture called up O’Hara in her London dressing room to discuss how her perspective on the character changed over the course of three years, what it was like to reunite with her castmates for her West End debut, and her plans for the upcoming revival of Kiss Me, Kate.

Is there much of a difference from performing on the West End than on Broadway?
Well, I think we’ve all heard about the West End always and dreamed about coming over here, but it’s also such a change of life and the history here, and the touristy things to do here are so beautiful. My kids and my husband and I have been over here all summer and tried to do as much as we possibly could between showtimes for a great little break from the world. We kind of found ourselves one weekend at a place called Botany Bay, where we just went to the beach. It was white cliffs of Dover-looking. We stayed at this beautiful little inn. For us that was a great little getaway to the British seaside.

The 2018 version of this feels very different than the 2015 version, in a way. I find Anna to be one of these women who, when playing her, it makes you also stand up a little straighter. I definitely love her more deeply as a mother, as someone who has a lot to learn in coming to teach. She’s also learning at the same time, and this idea of understanding and education about “the other” is very important. I think in 2015, with the possibility of Hillary Clinton running for president, we wanted to have a bit of a feminist story. Now, in 2018, we have that, as so many layers, but then on top of it, I was really reaching for equality and understanding.

Politically, with Brexit and Trump, that’s certainly something people have turned against.
I feel so heavy about all that, and I feel like instead of being angry and very barky and difficult about it, I’m starting to feel so much in my own life that there has to be some sort of gentleness, openness, understanding, and eye-opening.

I was moved to see Ruthie Ann Miles come back onstage, after the terrible tragedy she lived through. What has it been like to work with her again?
Ruthie and I are great friends. I’m glad to be here with her right now. It’s one of the bigger honors and purposes in my life right now, and she’s amazing.

You’re doing Kiss Me, Kate in the spring. Have you thought about how you will approach that show? 
Definitely. This experience makes me look at what I’m about to do differently. We’re going to meet in October to talk about how we make this revival fresh and why there is reason to do it at all. The score, everything like that, will be intact and respected, but I think there’s also things we need to look at in the scenes and kind of give it a reason for being. I also think a great deal about the last time I saw it, with my good friend Marin Mazzie playing the role, and keep her in mind in my performance.

I was thinking about Marin Mazzie’s performance in The King and I, where she replaced you, after hearing about her death. Has her version of Anna been on your mind? 
Marin was one of my very first real inspirations. The month I moved to New York, I saw her in Ragtime about eight times. She and Audra McDonald were my first musical-theater heroes. To pass, if you will, the role of Anna over to her, and come back and watch her do it was really one of the bigger honors of my life, to share something with her. Then she came and sang at Carnegie Hall for me the next spring, and it’s been hard to think of our whole community having lost her. I especially feel for my good friend, her husband, Jason Danieley, who has been a rock of a husband. I wish him all the best, and he knows that of course.

Is there any shift in what to West End audiences tend to react to in the show, as opposed to those on Broadway?
I have found them to be such beautiful listeners. People tried to warn me about British, London, audiences being different. I don’t feel that much of a difference. They still come to their feet at the end, they listen, they seem engaged. I think they’re enjoying this particular production. We reference the English so much in this production that there are little laughs we get even more: “I’m from a civilized land called Wales.” They enjoy that more than maybe American audiences did.

What were your thoughts on having the production filmed?
As much as I get nervous about something like live theater being filmed, I also am the result of having never seen live productions as a kid. I grew up in western Oklahoma, where we didn’t have live theater for the most part, so my love of this art form came from watching movie musicals, and that was how I learned about this art form at all. I keep thinking of the one kid out there somewhere who can’t make it to London or Broadway but sees this in a movie theater in their small town, and says, “I love this art form, and I either want to go someday to do it or see it, or I want to support it here in my local town.” It would be silly to assume that everybody who wants to be involved in and see theater can. This is the way to get it to people, and I think that’s important.

What do you think you learned from playing Anna?
This show sits very heavy and deep for me as far as what it means to be a woman — that you can be strong, that you can take care of yourself, support yourself, but you also can have love. That you can also depend on others, that you can also learn from others. I think there are a lot of ways to just think things are black and white, and we have to be one thing or another, but in all my life I will look for the reasons to know that I can be independent, and that it’s okay to have a partnership in life, to learn, to collaborate. That’s in everything. It’s in being a parent, being a spouse, being a friend. You walk onto the stage with a script in your hand and you start to just bark around, “This is how I am, this is what I believe, and I am unchangeable.” By the time you’re done with it, by the time you’ve played it 500 or 600 times, you start to go, “I have so much to learn.”

November 27, 2018 By simplyk   Comments Off on How Kelli O’Hara Radically Changed Her Pre-Show Ritual for London’s The King and I 2019, Broadway, Kiss Me Kate

The Tony winner shares tales from the West End production of The King and I revival—ahead of its cinema screening—and preparing for Broadway’s Kiss Me, Kate.

Kelli O’Hara is home from London after completing her first ever West End run, starring in the Lincoln Center Theater production transfer of The King and I. Her portrayal of Anna Leonowens, the British schoolteacher brought to Siam to educate the wives and children of the King, won O’Hara her first Tony Award in 2015 after having been nominated five previous times. Before leaving Britain, O’Hara and her King and Icompany were filmed live at the London Palladium for global cinema releaseThe King and I: From The Palladium will be screened in theatres November 29 and December 4. (Click here for information on local screenings and tickets.)


Here, O’Hara talks about her West End debut, her reaction to London audiences, and the London rule she wishes Broadway would adopt:

On simultaneously performing for the stage and the camera:
“This isn’t my first time filming a show,” she notes. “We broadcast South Pacific when I was in it at Lincoln Center. The director both times was Bart Sherr. Bart did change some things in South Pacific because we were on a thrust stage at the Vivian Beaumont [Theatre]. He told us to be a little more subtle, that he was going to come in close on us with the camera. He didn’t do any of that for The King and I. It’s shot full front, from the house, all proscenium, just as if you were there in the audience. I can’t say that I changed a thing.”

On playing for London audiences:
O’Hara brought a discovery from her time abroad. “I loved my time there,” she says. “I loved the London theatre community especially. People say that the audiences in London are different; that they don’t cheer as much, that they don’t stand up. Well, ours did. I didn’t find London audiences that different, honestly, or the London theatre in general.”

On best adjustment she ever made to her pre-show ritual:
“London Equity has a rule for a mandatory warm-up before every show: a physical warm-up and a vocal warm-up for the full company. They’re very strict about it. A lot of American actors go over and just hate it. It changes up your pre-show schedule. But I began to obsessively love it.

“When I did King and I on Broadway, I had a lot of injuries because of the huge, heavy, hooped dresses I had to wear. In London I had not one injury. In fact, I felt better than I have for a long time. That warm-up rule made a big difference for me. It changed my experience of the show. I loved that it forces you into a better routine for your body and your voice. I also loved that it forces you to spend time with your cast. Anna can be a lonely role. I was almost always onstage, and when I wasn’t on the stage, everyone else was. Offstage, I was stuck in a hoop and couldn’t roam the hallways. I found those warm-ups to be my gathering time with my company.

“Our conductor, the musical director, would step into it and run a very serious vocal warmup. Whether you think it’s all working for you, or not, you learn after a while that it is. Your voice is stronger, you have a cleaner show, vocally, and, God, my back and my ankles were in really good shape.

On her upcoming turn in Roundabout Theatre Company’s Kiss Me, Kate on Broadway:
“We start rehearsals in January,” she says. “I don’t usually do a revival against a revival; I like to jump into something else that is very different, but that’s how it has worked out. I’m excited. Kiss Me, Kate is a big, old musical comedy—very different from King and I. I’ll have a bit more social life backstage. And the costumes will be way more comfortable.”




November 22, 2018 By simplyk   Comments Off on Kelli O’Hara and Will Chase Introduce Their ‘Reexamined’ Kiss Me, Kate 2019, Broadway, Kiss Me Kate

Currently, this spring’s production of Kiss Me, Kate is the only musical revival announced for the 2019 Broadway season, but its stars Kelli O’Hara and Will Chase promise it won’t be the traditional restaging you expect. Clad in glamorous costumes from Lilli Vanessi and Fred Graham, the stars spoke with Vulture at the show’s first photo shoot, and they promised that the essential elements of Samuel and Bella Spewack and Cole Porter’s 1948 musical (about feuding actors staging a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew) will be in place, but noted that there might be some aspects that need a second look.

“Of course you’re not going to update it, really. But you’re telling this play in this time, in this consciousness,” said Chase, who’s returning to Broadway after spending time as a country star on TV in Nashville, “The estate, rightly so, says, ‘Don’t change too much,’ because we don’t want to change what this show really is, but I think there are things within it.” He noted that the show’s production team will meet before rehearsals to talk about the script, which, like those of other recent revivals (e.g., Carousel or My Fair Lady), depicts dated gender dynamics potentially ripe for revision. That team includes director Scott Ellis as well as lyricist Amanda Green, who will contribute additional material to the revival.

“I think that you can look at it and be overwhelmed with how much needs to be reexamined,” O’Hara said of Kiss Me, Kate. “Then, you can step back and watch it for the period that it is, to see how far we’ve come.” To that end, O’Hara said she was impressed by how little Green had suggested altering — in some cases, only a word — in order to shift the overall interpretation. “My very last song is ‘I Am Ashamed That Women Are So Simple,” O’Hara said. “I believe it will be that ‘I Am Ashamed That Humans Are So Simple.’ We’re not trying to change it to the opposite effect — I’m ashamed that men are so simple, or something. We’re trying to unify, to find some sort of coverage that includes everybody being fallible.”

There are also ways in which the leads may simply approach the standard material in their own way. “For me, there’s never been a reason to do a revival in there unless I make it something different,” O’Hara, a Tony winner for The King and I, said, noting that she doesn’t want to “throw actors under the bus” as a profession by making the central relationship too silly, and that she wants to find a new angle on Vanessi’s rousing solo “I Hate Men.” To O’Hara, at a moment when women’s anger is fiercer than ever, the character’s anger isn’t a joke: “It’s to be carefully crafted and not throwing things and ranting and raving so that men can toss us off as shrewish, naggy witches.”

Any new take the two are considering on Kiss Me, Kate won’t preclude the show’s essential comedy, however. Chase and O’Hara worked together both in a benefit reading of the musical and other productions, including a 100th anniversary production of Oklahoma! in Oklahoma. They are excited to reunite for Kate, which starts performances February 14 at Studio 54. “We just like to make each other laugh,” Chase said.

If there’s an advantage to doing a revival, it’s that the base elements are already there. The music, for instance, does already work. “If you can lose yourself in Cole Porter’s score, you do feel something that’s worthy of hope,” O’Hara said. “Toe-tapping and gorgeous dance numbers that’ll be choreographed so beautifully, that old-fashioned musical comedy that just makes people happy — there’s nothing wrong with that right now.”


November 22, 2018 By simplyk   Comments Off on Watch a clip from Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe’s The King and I before it comes to theaters Uncategorized
November 20, 2018 at 05:48 PM EST

For those who didn’t get to see the Tony-winning revival of The King and I when it was on Broadway in 2015, or when it transferred to London’s West End this past summer, you’ve now got another chance: Just whistle a happy tune as you head to your local movie theater.

The classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical is making a bow in cinemas with The King and I: Live From the London Palladium Theatre, showing on U.S. screens on select dates via Trafalgar Releasing. Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe reprised their Broadway roles as Anna and the King of Siam, as did Ruthie Ann Miles, who won a Tony for playing Lady Thiang.

Above, you can see O’Hara — who won a Tony for her portrayal of the British schoolteacher hired by the king to tutor his children in 1860s Bangkok — and members of the musical’s ensemble singing one of its most iconic songs, “Getting to Know You.”

During a special screening of the film in New York last week, O’Hara and director Bartlett Sher joined EW to discuss their experiences working on the Broadway production and returning for the London run. During that chat, O’Hara said she was surprised by the depth of what she learned from playing Anna over these last few years.

“[Initially] I thought I’m gonna do this easy, ‘Whistle a Happy Tune,’ ‘Getting to Know You’ musical, and what surprised me was I learned more about myself, about the world — the way I felt about it, and what it means to have a voice — than I’ll ever know,” she said. “I learned so much from playing this woman, and I continue to.”

“Getting To Know You” became an anthem of sorts for O’Hara, because the (deceptively) simple, incredibly hummable song is about people coming together despite their differences and trying to understand one another. “To me, everything I wanted the show to be about was about that song,” she said. “Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me. Just trying to understand each other and trying to plead and say, ‘I see the best in you, and I want you to see the best in me.’ That’s how I felt it every night.”

Matthew Murphy

Sher — who directed the well-received revival of My Fair Lady this year and is bringing the Aaron Sorkin-adapted To Kill a Mockingbird to Broadway — also shared that getting to revisit the production for the London transfer allowed him and the cast to re-examine their show. “We had an amazing opportunity, which you don’t always get, when you work on something for a long time and then let it go away for a while and then you come back to it. Suddenly you walk through it as an artist, [and you think,] ‘Oh my God, this is what I did, why did I do that?’… There are very subtle ways in which it changes, we pushed it to new places. You just get to reignite the questions you asked the first time and balance them against the new person you are, and see where you are with that.”

The duo also discussed the balances between retelling a classic, beloved tale and finding its relevancy in a more modern era. One example they gave was Miles’ perceptive and emotional performance as Lady Thiang, who gently but knowingly guides Anna in her interactions with the king. “In 2015, we were on the verge of maybe electing a woman for president, we were feeling all those feels at the time,” said O’Hara. “Doing it in 2018 was a whole different story, but at that time you take someone like Lady Thiang and the way Ruthie played it — which was in large part an idea that Bart had, which was that Lady Tiang is the Hillary Clinton. She is the one running the show. I loved the idea that she was the most powerful woman in the kingdom.

Details on showtimes and tickets for The King and I: Live From the London Palladium Theatre can be found at the film’s website.


The King and I (Stage)

Bartlett Sher
The King and I (Stage)
November 18, 2018 By simplyk   Comments Off on Kelli O’Hara: Me Too made every woman feel like an idiot for a minute 2019


The Broadway star said the theatre industry still has a way to go for gender parity.

The Me Too movement has “probably made every woman feel for a minute like an idiot”, Broadway star Kelli O’Hara has said.

The actress, who recently concluded a run of The King & I in London’s Palladium, said it has made women reflect differently on experiences they have had in their past.

She told the Press Association: “It’s been a heavy year, I think, for all of us.

“I think all of us have probably gone back in our minds and realised things that probably we never really thought about.

“Or thought ‘Oh god I thought that was a friendship…’ or whatever it was, like a professional relationship, especially professional relationships.

“And things like that, I think it probably has made every woman feel for a minute like an idiot.

“That is one of the things that makes a woman stand up, whether she’s been abused or physically or mentally or sexually or whatever it is, I think that’s what makes every woman stand up and have a straighter back all of a sudden.

“I think, going forward, that’s what’s going to change. Maybe we’re going to raise our children differently, to talk about things, to put a stop to things.

“I have a boy and a girl, there’s something important for both of them to learn.

“That’s my hope, that we all start to just think differently, to open our minds, men and women, to how we treat each other, how we’re being treated, how we teach the next generation to treat and be treated.

“It has to be a movement. And the thing is you look back in history and movements, real change, is never seen in a moment. So, we just have to hope that, like I said for the next generation, that things will be different.”

O’Hara said there is still a way to go for gender parity in theatre, adding: “We need more female writers, we need more female directors, more female composers.

“We have the one but we need the ones who are out there to have more shots, to be trusted more. And therefore that you probably need more female producers.

“I have to say that for every woman I want to be in power, I’ve also had examples of really good men trying to do that. I’ve been directed by a lot of men who actually believe in women. And I think in musical theatre it can be a little different, because you have a lot of musicals where the woman is the lead.

“However, there’s still the man that comes in, in the love story, it’s always the innocent little woman and the man kind of the one who has the conflict. There’s probably pay discrepancy that we need to get inside.”

She added: “I can’t say, as a musical theatre actress in theatre, that I’ve been treated unfairly too many times, but I’ve watched it happen.

“We need to put women in powerful positions in every one of them in order to have equal representation and make sure that, across the board, our female creators are getting the same treatment as, say, a leading lady.”

O’Hara said it was important that the production of The King & I, which will screen in UK cinemas on November 29, reflects more modern racial and gender politics.

She said: “In our production it was really important that we spent much less time on the actual musical that’s been done a million times, and much more time on the actual politics and the history of what was happening right then and there during that time.

“I feel like we’re doing all that we can to really focus on the gender inequality, to focus on bridging the gaps between people of different cultures, I think we’re trying to do our best in 2018 to make this story relevant and important, which I think it is.”

The King and I: From The London Palladium will be in UK cinemas on November 29.


November 9, 2018 By simplyk   Comments Off on New King and I video Uncategorized

November 9, 2018 By simplyk   Comments Off on Exclusive Music Video! Watch Kelli O’Hara Sing ‘So in Love’ from KISS ME, KATE 2019, Broadway, Kiss Me Kate, Video

Can't wait for KISS ME, KATE? Watch Kelli O'Hara hit the studio to perform "So in Love."

For tickets & info: bit.ly/rtcKissMeKate

Slået op af Roundabout Theatre CompanyOnsdag den 7. november 2018

November 7, 2018 By simplyk   Comments Off on Front Row: Kelli O’Hara, Days of Rage & a FootlooseReunion 2019, Broadway, Kiss Me Kate, Video


October 5, 2018 By simplyk   Comments Off on New movie role for Kelli! Uncategorized

October 2, 2018 By simplyk   Comments Off on Kelli O’Hara on performing in the West End: ‘I’m sure I’ll be back’ Uncategorized

The Broadway star wraps up in The King and I this week

Bartlett Sher’s production of The King and I concludes its West End run this week, and Tony Award-winning star of the show Kelli O’Hara reflected on her time appearing as Anna in the musical as well as what the future holds.

Talking at the Stage Debut Awards, O’Hara said: “I’ll always miss playing the role on stage and I’ll miss the group of people at the Palladium. But my family’s gone home now and I can’t wait to be back with them.”

O’Hara first took on the role opposite Ken Watanabe back in 2015 when the production first premiered at the Lincoln Center, with the West End production opening earlier this year.

“We knew that this stage would come and I can’t believe it’s happened after several years. These things make you nostalgic – a part of you is excited to move on, but you always get sad for what came before. That’s what life’s about.

“I’m embracing the moment and just taking this last week of shows and really loving them.”

While playing the role on Broadway, O’Hara won the Best Actress in a Musical Tony Award, with the show winning four Tonys in total.

O’Hara was nominated for the Best West End Debut Award at the Stage Debut Awards, losing out in the end to The Lieutenant of Inishmore and Poldark star Aidan Turner.

But it sounds like she’ll be back in London soon: “I’m totally hooked by London and would live here in a second. There’s so much I know I have to do and am sure I’ll be back.”

The Palladium production of The King and I will be screened in cinemas later this year.