“Kelli is a genuine Oklahoman, reared in Elk City and a product of Deer Creek schools and Oklahoma City University. She has always projected the effervescent, enthusiastic, fearless spirit which defines her today. She is a leading cultural ambassador for our state. If, when people think of Oklahoma, they think of Kelli, we are truly “doin’ fine.”
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 garnered her the 2015 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical, along with Drama League and Outer Critics nominations.
O’Hara earned a degree in opera from Oklahoma City University. After winning the State Metropolitan Opera Competition in 1998, she moved to New York City and enrolled in the Lee Strasberg Institute for acting. She made her Broadway debut in Jekyll & Hyde, followed by 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 O’Hara 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 she received Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Award nominations. She 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.
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. Additionally, she starred as Mrs. Darling in NBC’s live telecast of Peter Pan alongside Allison Williams and Christian Borle. O’Hara made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the production of The Merry Widow with Renee Fleming.
Her concerts span from Carnegie Hall to Capitol Hill. Film and television credits include Sex & the City 2, Martin Scorsese’s The Key to Reserva, Blue Bloods, Alexander Hamilton, N3mbers, and the animated series Car Talk. She is a frequent performer on PBS’s live telecasts and the Kennedy Center Honors. Her solo albums, Always and Wonder in the World are available on Ghostlight Records.
O’Hara won a Tony Award in 2015 for Best Leading Actress in a Musical, The King and I.
O’Hara was born in Elk City, Oklahoma.