From now through July 1, Collen Zenk is reprising one of her favorite stage rolls, Dolly in Hello, Dolly!, at The Little Theatre on the Square in Sullivan, Illinois. “It’s the biggest woman’s role in musical theater. The show is a bear! It’s huge. So I came in early and started working with the musical director and then started working with the director and the choreographer,” Zenk told Digest at the start of rehearsals. “I did the show 13 years ago for six months in three different theaters, so there’s a bit of memory there, still, but it’s still daunting because there is so much music. She barely leaves the stage, except to change costumes, and they are doing it very period. It’s not a glamorous Dolly like I did the last time, or like Carol Channing did. It’s more the way Bette Midler’s production was done. They have an incredible costume shop here and they are building all the costumes. It’s all about big bustles and 1890s, late Victorian clothing. So it’s a very different kind of look and the scenery, the set, is just unbelievable. This is the 61st season of this theater and so many incredible people have played here, including some major stars from daytime: Ruth Warrick [ex-Phoebe, ALL MY CHILDREN] in Pal Joey, Rosemary Prinz [ex-Penny, ATWT; ex-Amy, AMC] in Paint Your Wagon — she did 19 shows here over the years — Don Hastings [ex-Bob, ATWT] , Mary Stuart [ex-Jo, SEARCH FOR TOMORROW], Bill Hayes [Doug, DAYS], Susan Hayes [Julie, DAYS], Eileen Fulton [ex-Lisa, ATWT], David Canary [ex-Adam/Stuart, AMC]. And then this year, I got a call from the executive director saying, ‘Your name came across my desk today because your agent submitted you. We had submissions from every top agent, submitting every Broadway star, but no one here knows them and we know you. Will you come do Dolly?’ It came at the right time for me; it was just what I needed. Everyone here is just wonderful, so talented, and I’m thrilled to be doing this show.” Keeping her company in Illinois? Her puppy, Boo, named as an homage to her ATWT alter. “Kathy Hays [ex-Kim] used to call me Boo on the show. If Kim was mad at Barbara or if she was feeling affectionate, she would call her Boo. She is a Maltest/Shih Tzu mix, cute as could be and a great traveler.”
For tickets and more information, visit www.thelittletheatre.org.