Sunday, April 27, 2008

Kelli O'Hara

This past Friday, I had lunch with one of my board members at Petterino's, the restaurant attached to the Goodman Theatre.

Since it opened, it's tried to be the Sardi's of the new Chicago theatre district.

Or as my board member said when I noticed other Chicago directors, including the artistic director of the Goodman Theatre, sitting around the restaurant...
"It's where the elite meet."

This, of course, prompted me to go into my best Bette Davis impersonation. I didn't go so far as to grab a celery stick, look at a theatre reviewer across the room and chomp on it as I stared at him, but almost.

As my board member and I talked, he mentioned the latest revival of South Pacific at Lincoln Center Theater, and an actress with whom we both had worked, Kelli O'Hara.

I had the privilege of working with Kelli at the Goodman Theatre in the pre-Broadway production of The Light in the Piazza. Sure, I moved tables and sat as the "Flower Vendor" with my ass facing the Goodman audience for the better part of 20 minutes and Kelli played Franca here before stepping into the role of Clara (and landing a Tony nomination) on Broadway, but Kelli treated me, and everyone, as if we were equals.

There were many others in that cast who made those of us in the Chicago ensemble feel right at home - - the first person to introduce herself to me on my first day of rehearsal was the incomparable Patti Cohenour, and before almost every performance, Victoria Clark would come up to me and thank me for my performance, saying that she knew I was more talented than what I was doing and that she appreciated my dedication and commitment - - but Kelli was a fellow Southerner who never once played the Diva.

And if you've ever seen Ms. O'Hara on stage or heard her sing, you know that she could be a Diva and you wouldn't care because of her intense talent and her glorious voice.

But it wouldn't even occur to Kelli to be a Diva. She is the best example of the truism that talented people - - truly talented people - - don't have to prove it. They simply ARE talented and they create an environment in the rehearsal room that inspires you to create at your highest level.

That's Kelli. Chris Jones' review of her work in South Pacific proves once again that she is one of the brightest stars on Broadway.

I love it when good things happen to great people.


Palm Springs Savant said...

you are so lucky to work with and know such talented people. I'd love to be Stephen Rader for a week...

Project Christopher said...

This particular blog reminded me so much of the Season's board meetings...... "blah blah blah theater...blah blah blah Bette Davis... blah blah blah..." :) (for those of you who think I'm being mean, I'm not. I was on the Season of Concern Board of Directors for a year and being the ONLY non-theater person it was often like being in Charlie Brown's classroom where you don't understand the teacher most of the time)