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posted: 11/7/2012 6:00 AM

Chicago actress taking this 'Act' on the road

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  • Mother Superior (Chicago actress Hollis Resnik) doesn't see eye-to-eye with in-hiding disco singer Deloris Van Cartier (Ta'Rea Campbell) in the national tour of the 2011 Broadway musical "Sister Act."

      Mother Superior (Chicago actress Hollis Resnik) doesn't see eye-to-eye with in-hiding disco singer Deloris Van Cartier (Ta'Rea Campbell) in the national tour of the 2011 Broadway musical "Sister Act."
    Courtesy of Joan Marcus

  • "Sister Act" draws to a close with a sparkly finale. The national tour of "Sister Act" plays at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University in Chicago from Tuesday, Nov. 13, through Sunday, Dec. 2.

      "Sister Act" draws to a close with a sparkly finale. The national tour of "Sister Act" plays at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University in Chicago from Tuesday, Nov. 13, through Sunday, Dec. 2.
    Courtesy of Joan Marcus

  • Video: 'Sister Act' Broadway montage

 
By Scott Morgan
smorgan@dailyherald.com

Award-winning Chicago actress Hollis Resnik is hitting the road and taking up the habit in the national tour of "Sister Act."

The North American tour of the 2011 Broadway musical adaptation plays Chicago's Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University from Tuesday, Nov. 13, through Sunday, Dec. 4.

"I'm the Mother Superior -- I'm a nun!" Resnik said with a laugh during a telephone interview from Toronto, where the tour officially launched this October. "I have one costume change and that's it."

That's a far cry from Resnik's co-star, Ta'Rea Campbell, who has multiple costume changes as the lead -- disco lounge singer Deloris Van Cartier.

In "Sister Act," adapted from the 1992 film of the same name, Deloris witnesses her gangster-boyfriend commit a murder, prompting the police to hide her in an inner-city convent as part of the witness protection program. While there, Deloris applies her pop culture flair to teach the mostly tone-deaf nuns choral singing, much to the initial disapproval of the Mother Superior.

"Her relationship with God is of the utmost importance," Resnik said about the Mother Superior, who is very protective of the nuns in her order. "What I think is so charming about the show is that she has these conversations with God, and as things progress you see her struggle with understanding why the sisters are so enamored of Deloris."

Both Resnik and Campbell have some big shoes to fill in terms of audience expectations, especially since they're stepping into roles respectively created by Academy Award-winning actresses Maggie Smith and Whoopi Goldberg (who is also a lead producer of the "Sister Act" musical).

"As an actor, I'm always given the freedom to create my own take on it," said Resnik, who adds that she avoids seeing other actors' visions of the roles that she assumes. "I just go with what I'm doing in the rehearsal hall with my fellow cast members, creating the relationships there in the moment."

The "Sister Act" creative team made a significant change from the original film and its 1993 sequel by pushing back the show's setting to the late 1970s. It was a move that allowed composer Alan Menken ("Little Shop of Horrors," "Beauty and the Beast") and lyricist Glenn Slater to write an unabashedly disco-influenced stage score.

"It's totally 1978 and that's what I think makes the score so great," Resnik said. "It really is indicative of that time period and it takes you back to that era."

Resnik recently won a Jeff Award for her performance as Carlotta in Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's 2011 production of "Follies." For the Jeff Awards Ceremony on Monday, Oct. 15, Resnik flew in specially on her day off to attend the show and perform her big number "I'm Still Here."

But once "Sister Act" ends its Chicago engagement, Resnik will be away from the Windy City's leading stages for a while since her tour contract extends through August 2013. Resnik is used to the rigors of touring, having previously traveled with shows like "Les Miserables," "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" in the past.

"I gave up a lot to do this tour," Resnik said, explaining she had to back out of three upcoming Chicago-area productions. "But that's how it goes in this business; it's a trade-off."

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