B i o g r a p h y
I'm so excited to announce the release of my first children's book,
MR. PRICKLE BEAR. This new creation has been in the planning stages for a long while and is now ready to be shared! The story is about grumpy Mr. Prickle Bear and how he has to stretch out of his comfort zone to help an injured rabbit. He resists at first, not wanting to help, but in the end he learns something about himself and his life is changed forever. Beautifully illustrated by Richard A. Kinsey, we know this heart-warming story will be treasured by readers of all ages.
As an author, this is an exciting new adventure and I look forward to traveling, promoting, reading aloud and signing lots of books in the years ahead. I've always written stories, or made them up off the top of my head while entertaining my baby sister, and then my daughter. Telling stories has always been something I love to do.
Music and literature go hand in hand in my life... and this is how it all began...
Diane's musical career began when she was 4 years old and her Italian grandmother started giving her piano lessons. She was playing Mozart Sonatas at age 8, and like many a young pianist – loved playing, hated practicing. Throughout her school years Diane was always playing the piano, reading books, singing, and daydreaming. Then in high school she started composing – dreadfully sad folk songs – accompanied by her very minimal guitar skills. (I believe there were 6 chords she mastered).
She entered Cal State Fullerton as a piano performance major – aiming to be a classical accompanist, but her freshman year she signed up to play rehearsals for Man Of La Mancha, and that literally changed her life. She was bitten by the musical theatre bug and the path of a classical pianist went out the window.
Diane started working as a rehearsal pianist for musicals, for singers, for clarinetists – you name it, she accompanied them, then moved into Musical Directing, and Conducting. Along the way she became a commissioned composer; first for The Ana Modjeska players and soon after as Resident Composer for the Tony Award winning South Coast Repertory. Diane composed scores for many Main Stage productions along with years of Educational Touring Musicals and Youth Players Musicals – all with fully staged productions at SCR. One of Diane’s favorite reviews from the LA Times for her music created for The Seagull was “Only the music soars in this production of The Seagull.” (Good for her, not so good for the director)
Along the way, Diane also performed onstage as an actress, (earned her Equity card) sang with a band, did a piano/singer solo stint, started writing vocal arrangements for a Caroling Company and on it went. Diane has always loved teaching and through the years has taught at UCI, SCR, Saddleback College, Santa Ana College and for the past 9 years as Voice Instructor for the BFA Musical Theatre program at Cal State Fullerton (Where she also Musical Directs/Plays Keyboards/Conducts).
Some of Ms. Vann’s favorite moments; Musical Directing John Raitt in South Pacific. Being the first girl pianist and Music Director for the West Coast Premier of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Being commissioned to write a completely original musical, SpellBound (to be performed on the ship the Richard Henry Dana in Dana Point), then submitting the show to a competition and winning the Lee Korf Best New Musical Award.
Other highlights of favorite Musical Directorships; Side by Side by Sondheim (SCR – playing an acrylic piano on loan from Barry Manilow!), The Secret Garden, Violet, Company and the US Premiere of Move On (A Sondheim Revue created and directed by David Kernan of the original Side by Side by Sondheim.) Singing with her husband’s top 40 band for three summers on Catalina Island. Going to Alaska (in January!) with a Touring Production of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
Diane was also the very first female pianist (in a formal tails tux) to Music Direct and play Forever Plaid – directed by Broadway’s original cast member Larry Raben for an entire summer run at The Laguna Playhouse and again at The Candlelight Pavilion in Claremont.
Another highlight for Ms. Vann was being commissioned by The Laguna Playhouse to compose/co-write lyrics (with writing partner Greg Atkins) an original adaptation of The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. In 2011 she produced her own original musical On Stage for 4 well-received performances (rewrites to follow). Diane has produced, arranged, and recorded two full-length CDs of her Caroling Group; The Christmas Belles. And as a singer in her group The NightinGals (Andrews Sisters stylings) she has performed on the Bob Hope Stage in Palm Springs.
And the adventure continues now with several Children's books in the development stages, along with plans for a narrated version of MR. PRICKLE BEAR scored with original music.