Oregon Teen Gets Glowing Reviews in Broadway Debut

Raised in Happy Valley, 18-year-old Hailey Kilgore is earning raves for her starring role in Once on This Island.

By Rebecca Jacobson December 5, 2017

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Oregon-raised Hailey Kilgore (center, in red dress) stars in the Broadway revival of Once on This Island.

It's a big leap from Happy Valley to Broadway. But Hailey Kilgore, who graduated from Clackamas High School in 2016 and has appeared locally at Portland Center Stage, seems to have managed it seamlessly. The 18-year-old just made her debut on Broadway, starring in a revival of the musical Once on This Island—think Romeo and Juliet in the Caribbean, with a live goat onstage—and she's earning near-uniform raves. (We talked with Kilgore in advance of the show's opening—read that Q&A here.)

The New York Times' Jesse Green, praising the "ravishing" production, called Kilgore "lovely," while former Times theater critic Charles Isherwood wrote in Broadway News that she "glows with big-hearted life" in a "richly sung, vibrantly danced performance." 

"Newcomer Kilgore is a delight, embodying both strength and vulnerability with a natural exuberance that never feels forced," said the Hollywood ReporterVariety called Kilgore a "thrilling young talent." The Daily Beast described her as "magnetic and brilliant" with a "pure and resonant" voice. Deadline deemed her "an ingenue with star power emanating as much from her fingertips as from her lovely voice ... a triumph." Both Newsday and the New York Daily News found her "radiant" (the former also suggested a Tony nomination could be in her future).

Not too shabby. For more, check out Playbill's roundup of reviews, and watch a video of Kilgore below.

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