Stars Bring a Taste of Broadway to Connecticut
By Cara Rosner / Photography by Matthew Morrison
Broadway fans, rejoice! Two of the biggest stars from The Great White Way, Kelli O’Hara and Matthew Morrison, will perform an evening of classics during a candlelit cabaret at UConn’s Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts in Storrs on Nov. 16.
“An Evening with Kelli O’Hara and Matthew Morrison,” sponsored in part by Connecticut VOICE, will reunite the two stars, who starred opposite each other in the Tony Award-winning 2005 Broadway musical “The Light in the Piazza” and again shared the stage in the 2008 revival of “South Pacific.” At Jorgensen, the two will be backed by the New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra.
“Matt and I have done two Broadway shows together, one of which marked a sort of launching point in our careers, so we started this [tour] together, in a way,” says O’Hara. “Our friendship was immediate and we love to be together and work together. I think we just respect each other a lot, professionally and personally. It feels best to work with these kinds of partners.”
Fans know O’Hara from her long list of Broadway credits, including “The Bridges of Madison County,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” “Sweet Smell of Success,” “Follies,” “Dracula,” “Jekyll & Hyde” and more. She earned a Tony Award for playing Anna in the 2015 revival of “The King and I.”
Morrison is well-known to television audiences for playing Will Schuester on the hit show “Glee.” On Broadway, his credits include “Hairspray” and “Finding Neverland.” He also appears on the current season of “American Horror Story.”
O’Hara’s love of theater started at an early age.
“The first time I ever sang in front of a crowd was my fourth grade school talent show,” she recalls. “I didn’t even know if I should be singing but, surprisingly, it went well. After that, I was hooked. I had heard about a voice teacher named Florence Birdwell when I was five, and I never forgot her. So, after grade school and high school productions and summer programs, I went to college at OCU [Oklahoma City University] to study with her, and she really set me on my path.”
She adds, “What I love the most [about my job] is bringing joy to people. The hardest part is juggling work and being a mom.”
Asked to name her favorite Broadway tunes, she’s temporarily stumped: “This is impossible to answer, so I’ll throw out three titles, but my answer will change tomorrow.” She goes with The Carousel Waltz from “Carousel,” Finishing the Hat from “Sunday in the Park with George,” and Love to Me from “The Light in the Piazza.”
An Evening with Kelli O’Hara and Matthew Morrison begins at 8 p.m. Nov. 16; doors open at 7 p.m. Cabaret fare, a cash bar and desserts will be available. Tickets are $20-$55 and available at jorgensen.uconn.edu and by calling 860-486-4226. Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts is located at 2132 Hillside Road on UConn’s Storrs campus.