Summer: The Donna Summer Musical opens tonight Monday, April 23, at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on Broadway, offering perspectives on the disco diva at three different points in her career. Tony Award winner LaChanze (The Color Purple, Once on This Island) as “Diva Donna,” Ariana DeBose (A Bronx Tale, Hamilton) as “Disco Donna” and Storm Lever (Freaky Friday) as “Duckling Donna” make up this dynamic trio.
“She was a girl from Boston with a voice from heaven, who shot through the stars from gospel choir to dance floor diva. But what the world didn’t know was how Donna Summer risked it all to break through barriers, becoming the icon of an era, and the supreme queen for every diva who followed. With a score featuring more than 20 of Summer’s classic hits including “Love to Love You, Baby;” “Bad Girls” and “Hot Stuff,” this electric experience is a moving tribute to the voice of a generation.
With a book by Colman Domingo, Robert Cary and Des McAnuff, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical mines the song hits of Donna Summer. Songs are written by Giorgio Moroder, Paul Jabara, Summer herself, as well as many others. Tony-winning director Des McAnuff (The Who’s Tommy) directs while Tony-nominee Sergio Trujillo (On Your Feet!) provides the choreography.
The cast of Summer also includes Aaron Krohn (Cabaret) as “Neil Bogart,” Ken Robinson (The Color Purple) as “Andrew Gaines,” and Jared Zirilli (Lysistrata Jones) as “Bruce Sudano.” The ensemble is comprised of Angelica Beliard (On Your Feet), Mackenzie Bell (Sunset Boulevard), Kaleigh Cronin (A Bronx Tale), Kimberly Dodson (Duress film), Anissa Felix (Sunset Boulevard), Drew Wildman Foster (Sunset Boulevard), Kendal Hartse (Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella), Afra Hines (Shuffle Along), Jenny Laroche (“Smash”), Wonu Ogunfowora (A Bronx Tale), Rebecca Riker (An American in Paris), Christina Acosta Robinson (“Dexter”), Jessica Rush (Jersey Boys) and Harris M. Turner (Mamma Mia!). Swings include Aurelia Michael (Legally Blonde), Jody Reynard (Chicago tour) and Kim Steele (Jerry Springer The Opera).
Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals and maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.