After Round House Theatre was forced to cancel the past two annual Broadway in Bethesda galas due to the pandemic, the 2022 event promises to be one of the best. Tony Award winner Kelli O’Hara will perform at the newly-renovated theatre at the 2022 gala on May 14 at 7 p.m.
“I could not be happier to have someone who I have admired as a performer for such a long time being so committed in coming back to us,” says Round House Managing Director Ed Zakreski.
In addition to taking home the Best Leading Actress Award in a musical Tony for her portrayal of Anna in the critically acclaimed revival of “The King and I” in 2015, O’Hara’s long list of Broadway credits include “Kiss Me Kate,” “The Bridges of Madison County,” “The Light in the Piazza” and “Jekyll & Hyde.”
She also received Grammy and Emmy Award nominations, and was awarded the prestigious Drama League’s Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre Award in 2019.
O’Hara is excited to be performing at the Round House Theatre’s gala.
“The show will be my performing mostly Broadway, which is my favorite thing,” she says. “I also like to share some personal stories and songs I have written, or my husband has written, that definitely go along with my Broadway journey. I’m so glad to have been in certain classical musicals as well as some new ones.”
She teases that she often likes to sing songs from the shows she’s been in, but not ones that her characters performed — which O’Hara notes spices things up a bit.
Over the past two years, O’Hara spent her time in a myriad of ways, including lots of Zooms, educational talks and some outside performances. Plus she was happy to spend more time with her kids.
“I learned a lot — a lot about myself, my community and the business that I am in,” she says. “As hard as it’s been, there are a lot of reasons to appreciate what we had to do.”
She also was able to film season one of HBO’s hit “The Gilded Age” where she plays Aurora Fane, along with a collection of some of the theatre world’s most notable names, including Audra McDonald, Donna Murphy, Christine Baranski, Nathan Lane and Douglas Sills.
“It’s been an absolute gift — it’s a labor of love with people I admire so much, and I’m so proud of the artistry and collaborative spirit,” O’Hara says. “So many of my heroes are on the show. It’s been a wonderful thing to venture into that era—even putting that corset on, which I’ve been in for much of my career, because that felt like going home in a way.”
Zakreski notes the goal of the gala is to raise money for Round House’s Theatre for Everyone initiative— which raises money for various initiatives, including commissioning 30 new plays from female writers and writers of color; increasing salaries for artists across the board; and free tickets to students from 13 to college aged for any show.
“The entire theme of the evening and what it’s supporting — moving forward and making things better in the industry, and bringing about change is exactly what I’ve been trying to speak to myself,” O’Hara says. “If I have the opportunity to be invited to something like that, it means a lot to me. That’s why I am going to come and I’ll make my set list appropriate to that nature. I want to keep the evening familiar and warm, and bring my relationship with Broadway to Bethesda.”
Gala tickets are $300 per person, which includes pre and post-concert receptions and a live auction. For more information, visit RoundHouseTheatre.org.