Kelli O'Hara, Broadway star of The Bridges of Madison County joins host Robin Milling backstage at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater in New York City. Kelli tells Robin her dressing room is decorated with photographic inspirations to put her into the mindset of Francesca like a map of Italy, an 18th century Italian sketch, as well as a picture of the actual Rosamund Bridge in Iowa where Robert (played by Steven Pasquale) and Francesa meet.
Born in Oklahoma on a farm where she chopped cotton and was the 'official lawn girl'; she and her sister would harmonize through the aisles of the cotton fields ironically singing 'Love Could Build A Bridge.' Kelli could tap into Francesca's farm life, but slipping into her lilting Neopolitan accent combined with a bit of Americana happens when she says 'Francesa,' puts on a brown wig over her blonde locks, darkens her eyebrows and wears a farmwife's dress. She also has a ritual on her walk to the stage of reading all the signs on the wall in her accent like, 'stage right,' or 'no toaster ovens please!'
Having a new addition to the family and loving relationship with her husband, Greg Naughton enriches her with love and emotion which she brings into the role of Francesca. She says, “I don't think I could've played this role without having what's going on in my personal life right now. You come to a place in your life where everything is just at the right time.”
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Photos courtesy of Joan Marcus