Tonys Backstage: Kelli O’Hara on Snapping Her Losing Streak and That Goofy Dance

Kelli O'Hara Tonys Backstage
Theo Wargo/Getty

Kelli O’Hara snapped a Tony Awards losing streak Sunday night that threatened to turn her into Broadway’s equivalent of Susan Lucci when she picked up a statue for best actress in a leading role in a musical for “The King and I.”

The victory, coming after five previous defeats, took the musical theater star by surprise.

“I completely lost my mind,” said O’Hara. “When they did say my name I think it just blew me away.”

“I just wanted to be able to say thank you to a lot of important people,” she added. “That’s the most important part. To be grateful.”

With her work in “The King and I” and her previous Tony-nominated performance in the 2008 revival of “South Pacific,” O’Hara has emerged as one of the preeminent interpreters of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s music. The duo have a special resonance for O’Hara, because the Oklahoma native said she was introduced to musicals after seeing “Oklahoma.”

“They are running through my veins and they’re in my blood,” she said.

O’Hara concluded her emotional acceptance speech on a light note, goofily dancing off stage to “Shuffle Off to Buffalo.”

“I thought they were going to tap me off, so I thought I’d beat them to it,” O’Hara explained backstage.

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  1. Sheila Klocek says:

    Finally! Well deserved, long overdue, marvelous voice, touching actress, comedic presence,should have won a Tony for her role in “Bridges” or “South Pacific.” If she read the telephone book my husband and I would go to see her!

  2. PM says:

    I´m so PISS OFF! I´m SICK of the “AMERICAN AWARDS”… Is like the country; just #crap. Always underrated their own talent, they still a British colony. NEVER going to value the actor skill of actors like Bradley Cooper, a hard working man, who do his carrer without playing a heroe, but is to good for #USA. Just USING him for attract audiences on the shows! Fuc$#%
    #TonyAwards #CBS
    …Maybe Bradley have to change his sexuality to become an AMERICAN “HERO”… God bless the Americans double moral!

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