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Outlook 2013: Oklahoma native Kelli O’Hara is in demand for New York musical theater projects

After spending a year in the Broadway production of “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Oklahoma native Kelli O’Hara heads into rehearsals for musical productions of “Far From Heaven” and “The Bridges of Madison County.”

BY RICK ROGERS Published: April 28, 2013

While the Gershwin musical “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and Adler and Ross’ “The Pajama Game” featured lighthearted subject matter, “Far From Heaven” promises to stretch O’Hara’s already considerable acting skills.

“Like ‘Grey Gardens,’ ‘Far From Heaven’ is artistic and drama-driven, but Scott goes from light to darkness so easily because that’s what the story calls for,” O’Hara said. “The music certainly haunts me and stays with me all the time. You fall in love with all the twists and turns that aren’t expected. It has a lot of good energy.”

A busy fall

In September, O’Hara and her husband, Greg Naughton, will welcome their second child.

Big brother Owen, who will turn 4 in June, always relishes the opportunity to hang out at the Imperial Theatre, home of “Nice Work If You Can Get It.”

“On two-show days, Greg will bring Owen to the theater, and we play hide-and-seek between shows,” O’Hara said. “The seats are just about his height, so the theater is a big maze for him. He has a pretty normal situation otherwise — going to school and just being a kid.”

Later this fall, O’Hara will go into rehearsals for a musical version of “The Bridges of Madison County,” which is scheduled to open on Broadway in 2014. Tony Award winners Jason Robert Brown (“Parade”) and Marsha Norman (“The Secret Garden”) are collaborating on the score.

“We wait for opportunities like these, and I’ve been lucky enough to do a few,” O’Hara said. “They’re both beautiful projects that are hugely challenging. It’s the reason I wanted to do a Shakespeare play last year.

“I had no idea if I would fall on my face, but you have to go do those things. If you don’t take risks, you’re asking people to keep staring at the same picture. When you do that, then you start to lose your invitation. I want to keep being invited, at least for a few more years.”