Interview: Diane Hill Says SING HAPPY! at Theatre NOVA Celebrates Fantastic Musical Gems in an Intimate Theatre Setting

Celebrate the music of Kander and Ebb at Theatre NOVA from October 28th to November 7th.

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The Cast of SING HAPPY! at Theatre NOVA

From October 28th to November 7th, Theatre NOVA in Ann Arbor is putting on a production of Sing Happy!. This special show is a celebration of the work of Kander and Ebb, a legendary duo who composed such musicals as Cabaret, Chicago, and Kiss of the Spider Woman, just to name a few.

The upcoming production of Sing Happy! at Theatre NOVA was directed by Diane Hill, with music direction by R. MacKenzie Lewis. Sing Happy! features Justin Scott Bays, Kristin Clark, John DeMerell, K. Edmonds, Diane Hill, Elizabeth Jaffe, and Roy Sexton.

BWW Detroit recently spoke with Diane Hill, one of Theatre NOVA's Producing Artistic Directors as well as a featured star of Sing Happy!. Read our conversation below!

BWW Detroit: Can you give BWW readers a brief background of yourself and your theatre career?

Diane Hill: I've been performing professionally since I was out of college and producing and directing shows and musicals in professional theatres, at the colleges where I taught, and in the public school system my entire life. For five years I was Artistic Director of Two Muses Theatre, a nonprofit professional theatre in West Bloomfield, and I have been a Producing Artistic Director at Theatre NOVA in Ann Arbor since 2017. (Full biography is available on the Theatre NOVA website.)

How would you describe Sing Happy! for someone who is unfamiliar with the show?

Sing Happy! is a celebration of the work of Broadway's famous duo, Kander and Ebb. It's got great songs from their most famous musicals: Cabaret, Chicago, and Kiss of the Spider Woman along with The Rink, Zorba Steel Pier, The Happy Time, and Flora the Red Menace, among others. They wrote a lot of shows!

What was your first impression of Sing Happy! when you first were introduced to it?

Well, I just love the music of Kander and Ebb. And this particular collection of songs from their shows has been arranged by R. MacKenzie Lewis. He has created some wonderful mash-ups and peppered the show with musical surprises that simply delighted me.

Why were you particularly keen to direct Sing Happy!?

Chicago, Cabaret, and Kiss of the Spider Women are three of my absolute favorite musicals. But we can't do these huge musicals at Theatre NOVA. We don't have the space or the resources. Actually, it's difficult to do them anywhere - too expensive. So, by directing Sing Happy!, I have the great opportunity to stage some fantastic musical gems in our intimate theatre setting.

What has been your favorite aspect of directing Sing Happy! thus far?

Hands down, the people I'm working with. They're incredibly talented and generous. Absolutely wonderful to direct and perform with.

What are some of your favorite songs in Sing Happy! to perform and/or to direct?

I am enjoying the two duets I'm performing with my daughter. We have sung "Class" from Chicago together in my living room since she was in her teens, but we have never performed on stage together. And we're doing another duet called "The Apple Doesn't Fall Very Far from the Tree" from The Rink. We both love laughing and making people laugh, so we're looking forward to doing these for an audience.

As far as directing, I think "Cell Block Tango" from Chicago is my favorite, partly because we are doing it with men and women, and everyone gets a chance to do a funny and somewhat twisted monologue. I love the dark humor of this lively ensemble piece.

What would you say to someone who may be unfamiliar with the music of Kander and Ebb to get them to come see Sing Happy!?

Their music is so eclectic and always surprising. There are gorgeous ballads like "Maybe This Time" and "The World Goes 'Round," along with wonderfully energetic up tempo pieces like "The Life of the Party" and "Arthur in the Afternoon." And then there are these ironic and bitingly humorous showstoppers like "Mr. Cellophane" and "When You're Good to Mama." You will see some great performers singing a wide variety of songs. And when the entire ensemble sings together: Wow!

Sing Happy! runs at Theatre NOVA in Ann Arbor from October 28th until November 7th. For more information and tickets to the show, visit

Connect with Theatre NOVA on Twitter at @TheatreNova, on Instagram at @a2theatrenova, and on Facebook at


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