Hearts are heavy in the Chicago theatre community this day, mourning the loss of our star player, consummate actor, and lustrous singer, incomparable Hollis Resnik, who passed away Sunday. Hard to grasp. Think back just a few seasons to Paramount’s 2018 production of Cabaret and audiences will recall her “Fraulein Schneider” in a fierce and devastating portrayal directed by Katie Spelman. The cause of her death, “apparent heart failure,” belies how we are all celebrating Hollis for her generous, giving heart that never failed any of us. Ever. Personally, her coming to Aurora was a sort of reunion for us. As castmates, we go back to the 80’s and 90’s working together and bonding as friends doing new works built on skilled, versatile ensembles in shows like Northlight Theatre’s City on the Make directed by Michael Maggio, and at The Goodman, Maggio’s Another Midsummer Night and Book of the Night directed by Robert Falls. The outpouring yesterday of texts and phone calls among us sharing stories, tears and laughter, flashbacks spinning in our heads with vivid recall of moments with Hollis! “I just spoke with her a few weeks ago!” or “a couple months ago!” – as we all relate to how none of us knew she was ill. Hollis was the one who picked up the phone calling around, checking in on everyone as to how they were managing the shut-down and quarantine – talking about getting together when things opened up; a future with her we’ve been robbed of, lost. As we react to the gut punch of losing her so suddenly, it’s her genuine friendship and goodness and kindness, her outreach to burgeoning artists, that heals. The more one remembers her, all the more memories rise up and cascade never to be forgotten.

Amber Mak’s direction (Beauty and the Beast, The Wizard of Oz, Elf, The Little Mermaid, Hairspray) for Rock of Ages is a not to be missed powerhouse of 80’s Rock with this dream cast and the face-melting shred of their onstage band! While still polishing and rehearsing this week, previews play out for the next three shows tomorrow and Thursday with the Big Opening Press Night this Friday night – is there any way to possibly avoid a hangover Saturday morning?!!

Paramount’s Broadway Series Opener for our upcoming Season Eleven this fall, Dreamgirls, is in preproduction! Under the direction of Christopher Betts, the scenic design by Jeff Kmiec (Rock of Ages, Beauty and the Beast, Once, Elf, Sweeney Todd, The Little Mermaid, A Christmas Story) is yet another theatrical vision of spectacle singularly original and all about focusing the climb to fame and stardom of this 60’s girl group from the south side of Chicago (from where our director is as well who is making his Paramount debut)!

Next up for the BOLD Series is Hand to God directed by Trent Stork (Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde) and I am deliberately not saying anything about it aside from it being an outrageous piece of theatre that I cannot wait for our audience to discover! (Leave the kids at home!). This audacious, irreverent romp is followed by Fun Home and as Director Marti Lyons has had to withdraw from the production, I’m stepping up to co-direct with Landree Fleming! Landree starred as “Penny Pingleton“ here in Hairspray and recently directed Once Upon a Mattress currently playing to raves at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre in Evanston. Currently in the beautiful, new Copley Theatre, Sweat continues its knock-out run to audiences extolling high praise and gratitude for its brave and raw dramatic representation of race, unions and working class friends and family in crisis. Sweat closes this Sunday, April 24, and I cannot more highly recommend this production: the happy hour dive bar repartee entertains, empathizes, and delivers an experience you will think about and talk about – and have you looking forward to more BOLD!

Love & thanks,