Today's best, most versatile musical theater performers have one thing in common, as different as they are: the uncanny ability to bring utter conviction and vitality to a form too often seen even by as some of its fans as outmoded, artificial, irrelevant. It's true of the best work of Sutton Foster, Audra McDonald, Raul Esparza, and in particular Kelli O'Hara, who is earnest to a fault, even in comic roles (and I don't mean she's not funny—on the contrary, her dead-seriousness can be used to hilarious effect).
I chatted with her a few years ago, after Pajama Game but before her career-defining turn in South Pacific. On the occasion of her return to Broadway, in a light role in the Gershwin romp Nice Work If You Can Get It, I had a chance to revisit her relatively charmed career for this week's Time Out. Key quote:
“I was never going to do Rent; I don’t sing that way,” she says. It goes deeper than vocal style, though. “Maybe I was reborn from some 1940s person,” she muses. “I don’t know if I believe that, I just know that I came out of the womb feeling like I wanted to dress up in clothes from the ’40s and ’50s and sing with Nelson Riddle arrangements.”Read the whole thing here.