Stillman Student Diva Hall Lands Role in Little Shop of Horrors
When Stillman College music major Diva Hall steps onto a stage, there is a certain level of expectation. Her name alone suggests that she will be “on point” from start to finish, and her impeccable carriage promises nothing less than a first class performance. Before she even opens her mouth, it is clear that this talented sophomore is destined to sing. And whether she proceeds to mesmerize her audience with a moving gospel number or belt out a soulful rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” it is obvious to all that this diva can live up to her name.
As a member of both the Stillman College Choir and the Choir’s newly formed Swing Ensemble, she has had an opportunity to perform a wide variety of music that showcases her impressive vocal range. Although Diva insists that she is an alto, she delivers both high and low notes with such passion and precision that even her voice teacher often refers to her as a soprano.
Recently, Diva wowed the campus community during the Swing Ensemble's Homecoming concert, and soon Tuscaloosa will have an opportunity to see yet another side of her. From October 25 through November 3, she will play Ronnette in Theatre Tuscaloosa’s Little Shop of Horrors musical at the Bean-Brown Theatre on Shelton State’s Martin Campus.
Little Shop of Horrors is a comedy horror musical about a florist shop employee who raises a plant that feeds on humans. The music, which is composed by Alan Menken, is in the style of early 1960s Motown, rock and roll and doo-wop tunes. Ronnette, a major character, is a member of a trio of singing narrators who are present throughout the musical.
The makeup and clothing will reflect the styles of the 1960s and 1970s, and Diva will don a bouffant style wig with bangs and a ponytail.
“There are rehearsals for the musical every day from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. during the week, and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Rehearsals are more frequent when we get closer to opening night,” she says.
Although juggling schoolwork and a major role in the musical keeps Diva busy, she still has plenty of time for family because her mother, LaShaun Hilton, and her sister, Candace Hilton, are also performing in Little Shop of Horrors.
“My mother is a Stillman graduate and she also sings. She is a Delta. In college, her line name was International Diva, and she said that, if she ever had a daughter, she would name her Diva. My grandmother sang. My uncle sings and is a professional trumpet player in Atlanta. His son is doing his second Broadway show. My whole family sings,” says Diva.
Diva, her mother and her sister also performed together in 4 Little Girls, a musical based on the 1963 bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Given the sheer volume of talent in her family, people often ask if she plans to become a professional singer. When American Idol came to Tuscaloosa, friends urged her to audition.
“I was busy that day,” she says, adding, “I didn’t want to put myself through that because it has taken a while to build up confidence about how I sound.”
Although she now exudes confidence on stage, she admits that getting to this point has required much work. “When I was younger, I just sang without worrying about what other people thought. I’ve been singing since I was about three. My mom sang a lot in church and so did I. When I was in about the 4th grade at Verner Elementary, I sang my first solo—His Eye is on the Sparrow. I sang at Beautiful Zion AME Church and at Impact Nation Fellowship Church. As I grew up, I became more nervous about singing. Everybody is not going to like everything you sing. But I’m learning more about myself, and this has helped me to be more free on stage when I’m acting and singing.”
Although she would eventually like to have a professional singing career, Diva is also determined to earn a masters and a doctorate in music. “I want to teach on a college level and be a Broadway star,” she states with certainty.
A diva is by definition a main attraction, and Diva Hall appears to have been predestined to live up to her name.
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