Kelli O’Hara has established her name as one of Broadway’s leading ladies. She can be a serious actor as when she starred opposite Sam Waterson in the Public Theatre’s King Lear. She was a stunning Nellie Forbush in the sensational South Pacific revival at Lincoln Center. And now she will appear at the Williamstown Thaetre Festival (WTF). This three-time Tony Award nominee will star as a suburban housewife whose life unravels in the new musical Far From Heaven, which will receive a developmental staging this summer at WTF.
When news leaked to the New York press about her involvement (Playwrights Horizons which has announced the show for Spring 2013 isn’t talking), the New York Post and Playbill went gaga over the news, and wondered out loud how she could pull it off with all her other commitments. Happily, the Post reported that reps from Williamstown have confirmed the news.
O’Hara will play a suburban housewife in the new musical, following in the role Julianne Moore originated of Cathy Whitaker in the film. The musical is being directed by Tony nominee Michael Greif (Grey Gardens, Rent, Next to Normal).The team for the new musical is impressive, with Tony Award-nominated Grey Gardens songwriters Scott Frankel doing the music and Michael Korie the lyrics. Tony Award winner Richard Greenberg (Take Me Out) authored the book for the new musical based on the 2002 film.
What is interesting to me is that the film involves a closeted and confused husband, and how that plays out in the musical remains to be seen. But Kelli O’Hara has never feared to take on difficult, even strange roles. Her first job on television was as a character in All My Children and delivering the first Lesbian kiss on that show. Her next role was in Dracula, as a vampire. Nothing deters this dedicated actor. “I think experiencing everything is important,” she says. It’s the way actors develop depth.
O’Hara is married to Greg Naughton, son of actor James Naughton, brother of actress/singer Keira Naughton. Their first child, Owen James, was born on June 27, 2009
O’Hara is currently working with Matthew Broderick in the Gershwin musical Nice Work If You Can Get It in which she could end up singing “Someone to Watch Over Me” with a machine gun nestled in her arms. It is scheduled to open in the Spring, and reportedly, she has a contract in which she is allowed to slip away to Williamstown for their musical, slated for the Main Stage from July 19-29, 2012.
O’Hara is probably the busiest Broadway star in years. She is on the list of performers for several upcoming benefits, plus O’Hara has also been involved in readings of Korie and Frankel’s Finding Neverland. She earned Tony Award nominations for The Light in the Piazza, The Pajama Game and South Pacific.
The story of Far From Heaven revolves around O’Hara’s role as the picture-perfect wife and mother in 1957 suburban Connecticut. But roiling beneath the surface, secret longings and forbidden desires cause her world to unravel––with incendiary consequences. With a lush score that is both jazz-inflected and hauntingly lyrical, Far From Heaven is a powerful story of romance, betrayal, intolerance and a woman grappling with her identity in a society on the verge of great upheaval.
With the formal press announcement of the full season for the Williamstown Theatre Festival scheduled for Tuesday, February 28, artistic director Jenny Gersten seems to be heading for a remarkable year in 2012.