For actress Kelli O’Hara, Ireland is calling, and family comes first

O’Hara will be in Boston on Jan. 9 for 'The Seth Rudetsky Series’ at the Emerson Colonial Theatre

Kelli and her son, Owen, on the water in Maine.
Kelli and her son, Owen, on the water in Maine.Handout photo

Tony Award-winning actress Kelli O’Hara, who will be in Boston on Jan. 9 for “The Seth Rudetsky Series” at the Emerson Colonial Theatre, is eager to visit Ireland, her ancestral homeland. In the meantime, she is happy to vacation at her family’s coastal cottage in Maine. O’Hara will be accompanied by Rudetsky, a Broadway performer, musician, and writer who hosts Sirius/XM Satellite Radio’s “On Broadway.” He will talk with O’Hara about her various Broadway roles — including “The King and I,” “South Pacific,” and “The Pajama Game” — and accompany her on piano as she belts out many of her well-known and not-so-well-known musical numbers. This is the third installment in a three-concert series in Boston (the other two were with Jessie Mueller in July and Cheyenne Jackson in October). “I always love doing shows with Seth. We have been friends for almost 20 years, and he happens to be one of the greatest piano players,” O’Hara wrote in an e-mail. “I wish I had more time in Boston, as I love it there so much. But I’ll be racing back home to the kids.” O’Hara, 43, who is from Elk City, Okla., lives in Connecticut with her husband, actor, writer, director, and singer-songwriter Greg Naughton, and their two children, Owen, 10, and Charlotte, 6, and their dog, Bradlee. We caught up with O’Hara to talk about all things travel.

Favorite vacation destination?


Our family cottage on the coast of Maine. Things seem somehow simpler and calmer there. And the huge crashing of the waves and the open sky remind me how insignificant and tiny I am in this whole world — but how grateful I am to be in it.

Favorite food or drink while vacationing?

Margaritas, for sure. And Mexican food. But in Maine, I also love all the seafood.


Where would you like to travel to but haven’t?

I’d love to go to Ireland (I’ve only been there overnight once due to a rerouted plane). Ireland is where my family comes from originally.

One item you can’t leave home without when traveling?

I’m not really a “thing” kind of person. As long as I have my family with me, I could care less. Even my phone could go to hell. But if I’m not with them, then I need my phone for sure so I can stay in contact.

Aisle or window?

Window. Always. I like to sleep, and it feels more private somehow. I also like to look out at the sky . . . maybe the same reminder as Maine?

Favorite childhood travel memory?

We never flew when I was a child, so we took long road trips. I loved them. There were three of us kids all squished in the back seat, before seat belts were a law — scary — so I’d be down in the floor or lying up in the back window. We didn’t have movies or phones, so my brother and sister and I would sing or play games or fight. My parents are history buffs, and I remember them wanting us to tour old Southern plantations so we would learn about the devastation of slavery, the life, the conditions, etc. We would stand in an 8-by-8 room with a dirt floor, and my mom would ask us to imagine that kind of life: the work, the lack of freedom, the separation, etc. Those weren’t my favorite parts of my travels, of course, but they were the most meaningful.


Guilty pleasure when traveling?

Now, when I travel — especially for work — I like to finish a concert, take a hot bath, order room service, and watch TV. If I’m traveling with my family? Ice cream!

Best travel tip?

Take a travel humidifier — especially if you ever need to use your voice. Planes are dry. Hotel rooms are dry. Certain climates are very dry. They have great little humidifiers that just use a water bottle. . . . Easy and so worth it.