The Kelli O'Hara Awards, named for the Tony-winning Oklahoma native, will be presented annually at Oklahoma City's Civic Center Music Hall to celebrate excellence in high school musical theatre.
Created by OKC Broadway, a partnership between the Civic Center Foundation and the Nederlander Organization, the awards program will recognize students from high schools in the central and western regions of Oklahoma. The first ceremony will be held in 2019; winners of the Best Actor and Best Actress prizes will receive a trip to Manhattan to watch the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, also known as the Jimmy Awards.
Beginning in 2020, the Kelli O'Hara Best Actor and Best Actress Award winners will compete in the Jimmy Awards.
“This program is not only extraordinary for its impact on performing arts education at a local level but it is particularly special to us given its namesake, James M. Nederlander, whom we lost in 2016 but whose legacy will forever continue,” said Elizabeth Gray, Executive Director of the Civic Center Foundation and General Manager of OKC Broadway, in a statement.
“This is what makes The Nederlander Organization so special—their reputation in the industry and insistence on giving back to the communities in which they’re involved,” Gray continued. “And to honor Kelli O’Hara with this new program is an honor within itself. Her story will undoubtedly inspire some of these students to do great things.”
O'Hara won a Tony for her performance as Anna in the revival of The King and I, a role she recently reprised for London audiences.