It’s been too long. I needed this. Thrilled to revisit a concept my mom Susie Sexton and dad Don Sexton first suggested to The Penny Seats five (!) years ago. They had an acclaimed award-winning run, if I recall. Honored to be able to appear in it this go ‘round. Such a phenomenal cast and crew. Thank you, Diane Hill. Love you! ❤️
Theatre NOVA presents “Sing Happy!”
music by John Kander and Fred Ebb
with musical arrangements by R. MacKenzie Lewis
Oct. 28 – Nov. 7, 2021
ANN ARBOR, MI (September 29, 2021): Theatre NOVA, Ann Arbor’s resident nonprofit professional theatre presents a limited engagement of “Sing Happy!,” a celebration of the work of Broadway’s famous duo, Kander and Ebb.
An ensemble of singers will take the stage with showstoppers from “Cabaret,” “Chicago,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and many others while weaving a tale of strength and determination. Directed by Diane Hill, with music direction by R. MacKenzie Lewis, “Sing Happy!” features Justin Scott Bays, Kristin Clark, John DeMerell, K Edmonds (“The Revolutionists,” ‘The Devil’s Music”), Diane Hill (“The Lifespan of a Fact,” “A New Brain,” “Follies in Concert,” “Admissions,” “The How and the Why,” “The Stone Witch,” “The Totalitarians,” and “The Revolutionists”), Elizabeth Jaffe (“The Elves and the Schumachers”), and Roy Sexton (“Follies in Concert”).
The production and design team includes Monica Spencer (scenic design), Jeff Alder (lighting design), and Briana O’Neal (stage manager).
For the health, safety, and well-being of our patrons, staff, and artists, COVID safety measures will be in place. All of the artists and staff participating in the season are required to be fully vaccinated, and patrons must bring proof of vaccination and wear a mask while in the building. Unvaccinated patrons will not be admitted. Tickets will be sold at 50% capacity to allow for social distancing between parties, and concessions will not be sold. This policy is subject to change at any time, in accordance with fluctuating local, state, and federal guidelines. Please check our website for our current policy before attendance.
“Sing Happy!” will run for two weeks only, Oct. 28 through Nov. 7, 2021. Theatre NOVA is located at 410 W Huron St, Ann Arbor, MI 48103. Performances are on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. General admission tickets for this limited engagement fundraiser are $30.
Tickets, memberships, flex passes, and subscriptions may be purchased online at www.TheatreNOVA.org. Tickets may also be purchased in person one hour before each performance. Seating in the theatre will begin 30 minutes before each performance. There is ample free parking, and quick access to the city’s restaurants, bars, bakeries, and coffee shops. New patrons can find Theatre NOVA across Huron Street from Ann Arbor’s YMCA, through a parking lot entrance on the north side of the street. For more information, visit www.TheatreNOVA.org.
Theatre NOVA is dedicated to raising awareness of the value and excitement of new plays and new playwrights in a diverse and expanding audience; and providing resources and outlets for playwrights to develop their craft, by importing, exporting, and developing new plays and playwrights.
John Kander is an American composer who has produced many well-known scores for the stage, television and film. He is best known for working with his musical partner, lyricist Fred Ebb. Kander was born in Kansas City in 1927. From a young age he played the piano and began formal music training at college, where he composed his first theater scores. After college he worked as a pianist for pre-Broadway musicals in Florida. Kander credits his big break as chancing upon the pianist for a production of “West Side Story” in Philadelphia. He was asked to stand in while the pianist went on holiday and, shortly after, he played for a production of “Gypsy” and was introduced to Jerome Robbins who asked Kander to write the dance arrangements for the show. In 1962, Kander had his Broadway debut with the musical “A Family Affair” and worked with producer Hal Prince. Although the show was not a success, it led to a successful future relationship with Prince. The following year, Kander was introduced to Fred Ebb and the pair began to write together. Their first song “My Colouring Book” was nominated for a Grammy Award. From then on, Kander and Ebb’s writing partnership grew and was consolidated with a string of musical hits. After a slow start with the Hal Prince musical “Flora, the Red Menace” (which featured a young Liza Minnelli making her Broadway debut), the pair wrote the musical “Cabaret” (1966). Their next big success came with “Chicago” (1975) and a fruitful collaboration with choreographer Bob Fosse. Both “Cabaret” and “Chicago” were made into hit films in the 1970s and 2000s respectively. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Kander and Ebb produced a steady stream of musicals with varying levels of popular success. 1990 saw the pair score another musical hit with “The Kiss of the Spider Woman.” His most recent show (without Ebb this time) is “Kid Victory,” which was produced off-Broadway in 2017. As well as his theatrical works, Kander has written the scores for several films and collaborated Ebb on the 1977 film “New York, New York,” as well as “Funny Lady” and “Lucky Lady” (1975). In addition to multiple Tony Awards, Kander and Ebb were made Kennedy Center Honorees in 1998, as well as receiving the Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theater in 2000. In 2013 Kander received the National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Fred Ebb – One half of the dynamic musical duo “Kander and Ebb,” Fred Ebb was born in New York City in 1928. In 1955 he graduated from New York University with a degree in English Literature; in 1957, he earned his Master’s in Literature at Columbia University. Ebb partnered with other composers before meeting John Kander. He worked with Phil Springer to write individual songs (notably “Heartbroken,” made famous by Judy Garland). Later, Ebb partnered with Paul Klein for his first musical theatre endeavor, the Broadway revue “From A to Z.” In 1962, Ebb met Kander. Their first book musical to hit Broadway was “Flora the Red Menace” starring Liza Minnelli. Their next collaboration was “Cabaret” in 1966 (the 1972 film starred Minnelli). The duo went on to have a widely successful career, including many collaborations with directors such as Bob Fosse and Hal Prince: “Chicago” (1975), “Woman of the Year” (1981), “The Kiss of the Spider Woman” (1993), “The Visit” (2001). The pair’s last collaboration was “Curtains” (2006), a musical murder mystery. Unfortunately, Ebb died suddenly of a heart attack before it was finished. The pair’s last complete collaboration, “The Scottsboro Boys,” premiered in 2010. After Ebb’s death, the Fred Ebb Foundation and its award was established. The award is given to aspiring musical theatre writers – including Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak, who won the Tony Award for Best Musical and Book of a Musical for “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” (2014).
Diane Hill (Director) was founder and Artistic/Executive Director of Two Muses Theatre, a nonprofit, professional theatre in West Bloomfield. There she performed in and directed many plays and musicals each year and did the work of technical director, publicist, sound designer, webmaster, and graphic designer for every production. Diane was a professor at University of Detroit Mercy and Oakland Community College, where she originated and designed the Theatre degree program. She has a Ph.D. in Theatre from Wayne State University and a Bachelor of Music and Master of Arts in Theatre from the University of Michigan. She previously taught high school drama and music in the public school system (Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor) for 20 years. Diane has additionally produced and directed shows for professional theatre companies including Breathe Art Theatre Company in Detroit, Opus Mime in Ann Arbor, Jewish Ensemble Theatre in West Bloomfield, Tipping Point Theatre in Northville, and Heartlande Theatre Company in Detroit. Diane has been a Producing Artistic Director at Theatre NOVA since 2017. At Theatre NOVA, she produced several Michigan Playwrights Festivals, directed “Clutter” (Wilde Award Best New Play), “Follies in Concert,” “Whatcha Doin?,” “The W.I.T.C.H,” and shares with her cast and design team the Council Cargle Award for Excellence in Diverse Storytelling for directing “Kill Move Paradise.” Diane also produced all the Zoom projects since the shutdown, including the Zoom Play Festival and the pro shot filmed version of “A New Brain.”
R. MacKenzie Lewis (Music Director/Musical Arrangement) is composer and music director for EMU’s School of Theatre Arts, and lecturer and accompanist with its School of Music and Dance. Some favorite projects include orchestrating/music directing the national tour and Off-Broadway premiere of “The Berenstain Bears LIVE! in Family Matters, the Musical,” orchestrating/music directing “Gypsy” at the Hangar Theatre in New York (Broadway World Award: Best Music Direction); music directing “A Little Night Music” at the Performance Network in Ann Arbor (Wilde Award: Best Music Direction and Best Musical); music directing “Legally Blonde” as a guest artist for MSU (Pulsar Award: Best Music Direction); composing “Irrational” (Wilde Award: Best New Script); associate music directing the workshop of “Romance in Hard Times” with William Finn at the Barrington Stage Co.; composing music for “Mockingbird” (two Helen Hayes nominations), “Wings of Ikarus” and “Jason Invisible” – all of which were commissioned and premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.. He also composed the musicals “Video Games: The Rock Opera,” “Treasure Island,” “Pinocchio,” “Soaring on Black Wings” – world premiere with Ben Vereen, and all of Theatre NOVA’s Pantos.
Justin Scott Bays
Director: Diane Hill
Music Director: R MacKenzie Lewis
Set design: Monica Spencer
Lighting design: Jeff Alder
Stage Management/Props: Briana O’Neal
“Sing Happy!” music by John Kander and Fred Ebb, musical arrangement by R. MacKenzie Lewis
Theatre NOVA, 410 W. Huron, Ann Arbor, MI 48103 Box office: 734-635-8450,
ON THE INTERNET:
SING HAPPY! an evening of music by Kander and Ebb
October 28 – November 7, 2021
Fri., Oct. 28, 8:00 p.m. Opening Night
Sat., Oct. 29, 8:00 p.m.
Sun., Oct. 30, 2:00 p.m.
Thurs., Nov. 4, 8:00 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 5, 8:00 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 6, 8:00 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 7, 2:00p.m.