Kelli O’Hara – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Theater Review – January 28, 2018


Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Scottsdale, AZ

Magic happened at the Scottsdale Center Saturday as the dazzlingly beautiful Broadway star Kelli O’Hara launched into one of her now famous “South Pacific” song renditions as she began a richly rewarding concert of musical theater classics.

The fabulous evening was hosted and accompanied remarkably by Seth Rudetsky from XM Radio’s Broadway channel.  It was a relaxed but thoughtfully produced performance that allowed O’Hara to tell us about the development of her Broadway career that earned her a Tony Award for her marvelous “The King and I” performance.  She weaved in song hits from each of her classic musical theater performances as well as an assortment of other favorites from shows she hasn’t performed.

She previewed her next Broadway production, a 2019 revival of Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me, Kate” as she sang a hauntingly beautiful “So In Love” from the 1948 show  Her career started with operatic training and she makes her Metropolitan Opera debut later this season in “Cosi fan Tutte.”  She teased us with a remarkable operatic aria.  She discussed her family with cute tales about her children, Charlotte and Owen.

By the end of a generous evening’s entertainment, we had heard her lushly beautiful and powerful voice glide through a representative selection of musical theater classics, a country-western ditty she did early in her career, and she concluded the performance with a stunning “If I Loved You” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel.”

O’Hara is the consummate Broadway musical star with a centered personal life that enhances her career and provides her with insights she uses to craft the characters she plays on Broadway.  Rudetsky’s flawless piano accompaniment and chatty banter brought out O’Hara’s personal life and framed her powerful renditions of musical theater classics.  O’Hara’s honesty in crediting several Broadway stars who helped her career was a testament to her lack of ego.  She had a delightful time with the Scottsdale audience.

My only complaint has nothing to do with O’Hara or the Scottsdale Center.  It has to do with ASU Gammage w’s Broadway series that has never brought O’Hara to town in one of her Broadway hits.  Although she has never toured in her shows, she has many local relatives and friends that may make her willing to do local audiences this huge favor.  ASU Gammage must ask her to star here in one of her hit shows.

I will never forget Kelli O’Hara’s remarkable Scottsdale appearance.  It humbled me to have been lucky enough to see her remarkable Broadway performances in “South Pacific,” “The Bridges at Madison County,” and “The King and I” that will mark her London debut later this year.  O’Hara is an American  treasure.  How lucky Valley audiences were able to see her in person.

Grade: A+