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Kelli O'Hara takes a spin on 'Carousel'

Kelli O'Hara

Kelli O'Hara Credit: Kelli O'Hara

Kelli O'Hara, who received acclaim for her performance as Nellie Forbush in the recent Lincoln Center Theater revival of "South Pacific," will now tackle another major role in the Rodgers & Hammerstein canon - the strange and shy Julie Jordan - in the New York Philharmonic's concert production of "Carousel."

amNewYork spoke with O'Hara about the role.

Is this your first time doing "Carousel"? No. I actually did a production of it when I was a junior in high school. It was my first real musical. I played Carrie.

This is a musical dealing with domestic abuse, suicide, robbery, God and a litany of other issues. What's it like to confront these very serious, still controversial concerns? It's a lot like dealing with real life. Some people think Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote simple stories. It was completely the opposite. These are complicated things, just like what we face every day. I enjoy working on things that seem relevant.

Is working on the show emotionally challenging? Sure it is. And that's what we hope for. And every time I get a chance to challenge myself, I have the chance to grow.

Many people consider "Carousel" to be one of the best and most moving Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals. What's your favorite moment in it? "The Carousel Waltz" is one of my favorite pieces of music ever written. So my favorite part of the entire show will be standing off stage listening to that as I prepare to enter.

The 1990s Lincoln Center Theater production is considered to be one of the most important musical revivals in Broadway history. Did you get to see it? Sadly, no. I hadn't moved to NYC yet. I was still in college. But some years later, while working with its director, Nicholas Hytner, I had the honor of having him actually talk me through his entire staging of the overture as we listened to the recording. I closed my eyes and imagined it.

What will this staging be like? How elaborate will it be? Will it present any new take on the musical and/or characters? The staging will be simple and clear, I think, and supportive to the story. There will be beautiful dancing and [a] stage bustling with life. I think it's safe to say the wonderful [director] John Rando and [choreographer] Warren Carlyle are building everything to support this glorious music, as it is really more of a staged concert than anything.

If you go: "Carousel" runs Wednesday through Sunday at Avery Fisher Hall, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, 212-875-5656,

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