Interview With Hollis Resnik

The great Hollis Resnik is considered Chicago theatre royalty for good reason. In the last few seasons she has tackled Edie in Grey Gardens, Margret in The Light In The Piazza, Velma Von Tussle in Hairspray and last month she brought down the house with her rendition of “I’m Still Here” in Gary Griffin’s mega-hit Follies at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. To the delight of her fans, the Lampkin Music Group will be presenting Ms. Resnik in concert for a New Year’s Eve celebration at Stage 773, with musical direction by Douglas Peck. In this interview, Ms. Resnik discusses her influences and how the Chicago theatre has changed since she began her illustrious career.


MJR: (Michael J. Roberts) First of all congratulations on such an amazing year. Has this been your most exhilarating year creatively?

HR: (Hollis Resnik) Thanks for all your kind thoughts. It certainly has been one of the most stimulating and creative years. Its always great when you get to do such diverse roles like Carlotta in FOLLIES and the old lady in CANDIDE.

MJR: Who were you musical influences growing up? What was the first musical you saw that changed your life and made you say “I have to do this!”?

HR: I come from a very musical family and was always listening to Broadway albums at a very young age. One of which was CANDIDE. I did a lot of community theatre with my folks growing up. So as a child i was very keen on SOUND OF MUSIC, BYE BYE BIRDIE and MUSIC MAN. many others. and i sang along a lot with Barbra Streisand in my basement. Didn’t we all?

MJR: From your days working at the Candlelight Dinner Theatre till now, how have you seen the theatre scene change in Chicago over the years?

HR: Yes. the theatre scene has changed. there are so many NEW theatres..lots and lots of the storefront companies. Its very cyclical. some stay some dont. but the work continues to be vibrant and brave i think.

MJR: What are some of the roles you would like to tackle on stage that you haven’t had the chance to play?

HR: Mrs Lovett in SWEENY and Arcadina in THE SEAGULL.

MJR: What role that you have played has taught you something you never knew about yourself and how do you carry that in your everyday life?

HR: There isn’t one role really…but when I am cast in something that may be atypical for me a lot of what I find when I am working on that character does have an impact. My emotional arsenal grows. an example would be Margaret Johnson the mother in LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA.

MJR: Your solo c.d. “Make Someone Happy” is stunningly brilliant! How did you go about picking the material for the album? What song on the recording has the greatest meaning to you and why?

HR: My CD was always just for fun and for my parents really. I just chose songs I loved to sing. A little bit of everything I guess. But the title track Make Someone Happy is very close to my heart. The simplicity of those lyrics are divine.

MJR: Do you have any New Years’ resolutions?

HR: To always remember my lyrics! Ha! most importantly…to be grateful…always to be grateful no matter what.

MJR: What can we expect to hear at your fabulous NYE concert at Stage 773?

HR: My gigs are always pretty loosy goosy. a little Sondheim….some Randy Newman which I love to do as he is so irreverent. Maybe a pretty French waltz. I normally choose character based material. I hope everyone will try and get there and Happy New Year!

Tickets for the New Year’s Eve concert are $75 and include a champagne toast and dessert. Tickets are on sale to the public and may be purchased by visiting Ms. Resnik’s debut album can be purchased here. For the spring series presented by Lampkin Music Group, please visit Stage 773 is located at 1125 W. Belmont, Chicago,