Tony Winner and Broadway legend Kelli O’Hara was given life 42 years ago today—and she’s been giving us life ever since.
The star’s resumé is longer than a CVS receipt, with roles in film, television, opera, and, most famously: Broadway.
Here are some of our favorite times O’Hara lit up the Great White Way.
Light in the Piazza
Though Kelli O’Hara’s Broadway debut happened five years before Light in the Piazza, the show shot her to Broadway royalty status, with the role of ingenue Clara. Her signature soprano was on full display and earned the star her first (of six) Tony nominations. Bellissimo!
The Pajama Game
The Pajama Game may have been 52 years old at the time, but the 2006 Broadway revival boasted a vibrant spring in its step—largely due to Kelli O’Hara’s masterful performance as union activist Babe. Sharing the stage with Harry Connick Jr. might be daunting for some, but O’Hara made it look effortless.
O’Hara made cockeyed optimists of all of us as naval nurse Nellie Forbush in the 2008 revival of South Pacific. She picked up her third Tony nomination for the role and captured the hearts of untold audience members.
The Bridges of Madison County
The role of Francesca in The Bridges of Madison County was made famous on film by an up-and-coming actress by the name of Meryl Streep (she’s going places), but O’Hara made the character all her own in Jason Robert Brown’s musical version. She embodied the passion that drives Francesca to pursue her affair with the mysterious photographer Robert, showing us a side of her we’d never seen before.
The King and I
Broadway wasn’t ready for O’Hara’s performance as Anna in the 2015 revival of The King and I. The portrayal instantly became one of her most famous roles and earned O’Hara her first (and long overdue) Tony win.
Honorable Mention: Ellen in Sex and the City 2
The movie may have been a dud, but Kelli O’Hara’s two minutes onscreen were definitely a highlight, playing every person you’ve ever met who says they’re “SUCH a Carrie.” Luckily, we’d take a Kelli over a Carrie any day.
Can’t get enough of Kelli O’Hara? You can see her as the title role in Kiss Me, Kate on Broadway now!