Kristin Chenoweth and Kelli O’Hara Pay Tribute to Late Mentor and Teacher Florence Birdwell

Obituaries   Kristin Chenoweth and Kelli O’Hara Pay Tribute to Late Mentor and Teacher Florence Birdwell
 
Ms. Birdwell, a professor of voice at Oklahoma City University, passed away recently.
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Tony winners Kristin Chenoweth and Kelli O'Hara have shared tributes to their mentor and Oklahoma City University vocal teacher Florence Birdwell, who recentlly passed away. The stars maintained a lifelong relationship with their former teacher after graduating from OCU in the '90s.

O’Hara, who won the Tony Award in 2015 for her performance as Anna Leonowens in Lincoln Center Theater revival of The King and I, thanked Ms. Birdwell in her acceptance speech. The professor frequently kept in touch with her former students, including a visit to NYC during the Tonys that year, as documented by OCU in a video below. Chenoweth was also nominated that season, in the same category as O'Hara, for On the Twentieth Century.

"There's something about Anna Leonowens that is Florence Birdwell, inside and out," O'Hara says. "[She's] a very strong, proud, stubborn woman, but it's because she wants people to be better. She wants people to be treated fairly."

"What I always got from her was the truth, whether I liked it or not," says Chenoweth in the interview. "I still get it, in fact. And I still want it from here. If she were to be something else, it would hurt me. So anyone who is lucky enough to have ever studied with her should count themselves blessed."