(Taffy Bodesser-Akner’s article appeared in The New York Times, 5/30; photos by Brenda Ann Kenneally; via Pam Green.)
THE TONY-WINNING ACTRESS TAKES US INSIDE HER DRESSING ROOM AND SHARES HER TWO-HOUR PRE-CURTAIN REGIMEN.
Kelli O’Hara kisses her children and husband goodbye, buys a salad and boards a train in coastal Connecticut eight times a week to star as Lilli/Kate in “Kiss Me, Kate,” the Tony-nominated revival at Studio 54 for which O’Hara herself was nominated this year, too, for Best Actress in a musical. It’s her seventh Tony nomination — she has one win, in 2015 for Best Actress in “The King and I” — and it’s her 11th Broadway show. She has been doing this for a very long time.
It’s a different crowd every night. That might seem obvious, but it doesn’t always make sense when it’s the same group of indistinct, shadowed faces. Once you’ve got the lines, the songs, the dance moves, the real work is in figuring out a way to deliver them to the people as if they were the only ones to ever receive them.
O’Hara’s dressing room is small, but big for Broadway. It’s filled with flowers sent over by people congratulating her for her nomination. But this year she is not nervous: She has what she calls the “Zen release” of already having won one. Plus, people love an underdog. The minute you’re not an underdog, yes, you won, but that’s not really the same as everyone loving you.