The Tony award winning actress joined Seth Rudetsky for an insightful concert that was immensely enjoyable to watch unfold.
Having been lucky enough to catch Kelli O’Hara in the critically acclaimed production of The King & I which arrived in London in 2018, I was certainly looking forward to seeing this concert which certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Filled with fascinating stories, close attention to technical details of the songs and characters that she has performed – this certainly felt like a masterclass on how to be a classy performer.
Having been nominated for seven Tony awards, including a win in 2015 for her performance in The King & I, Kelli O’Hara’s gorgeous vocals are immediately recognisable for their quality. This is immediately made clear on her powerful rendition of ‘Think of Me’ from The Phantom of the Opera that highlights all of her technical abilities perfectly. So it is somewhat surprising that she has never played the role of Christine having been invited to try out for the role on many occasions – it was decided (somewhat ridiculously) she wasn’t quite right for the part.
But this song has other meaning for her personally as she discussed the time in which she performed the song and a gentleman was really moved by her performance. Sadly, he passed away soon after – but his family tracked her down and asked her to perform the song again at the funeral as he enjoyed her rendition so much. A really touching and lovely story that reveals just how engaging her performances are.
Yet it is also her close attention to the details of the songs and characters that captures just how immersed she gets into her roles. After performing her heart and soul ‘To Build a Home’ from the musical The Bridges of Madison County (which she originated the role of Francesca on Broadway, she goes into fantastic detail as to how she saw the character and the meaning of the song – clearly thought out. As always, Seth Rudetsky really makes the most of these moments to ensure that the concert has great depth to it in the way in which he approaches the conversation with his guests.
This performance is quickly followed up with a tender and heartwarming performance of ‘Always Better’ from the same musical. As with many of the songs selected – each shows off a different aspect of her voice but it is consistently of a high quality. This is really reflected in a lovely tribute to Rebecca Luker who tragically died last month, performing ‘Goodnight My Someone’ that really touches the heart.
Overall, this is a wonderfully warm, relaxed and emotional concert that really shows what a great pairing Seth Rudetsky and Kelli O’Hara are – both have a great respect for each other and it really pays off here.
By Emma Clarendon