Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this year, predicting an early spring, but today’s theatre news comes with even warmer prospects: triple summer…”Donna” Summer, that is. The upcoming Broadway production of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical has announced the three ladies who will portray this celebrated diva of disco. Playing the musical icon will be 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.” Additional casting will be announced soon.
LaChanze original the role of Ti Moune in the original production of Once on this Island. She won a Tony Awards for Best Actress in 2006 for originating the role of Celie in the musical The Color Purple. Other Broadway credits include Ragtime, Company and If/Then. Ariana DeBose just completed her run with the Broadway production of A Bronx Tale, playing Jane. He other Broadway credits include Hamilton, Pippin (Leading Player), Motown, and Bring It On! Storm Lever recently appeared in La Jolla Playhouse’s production of Freaky Friday as well as the off-Broadway production of The Wringer at City Center.
Summer: The Donna Summer Musical is explained as follows: “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.
Drawing from the song hits of the disco diva Donna Summer, the new musical will feature a book by Colman Domingo, Robert Cary, and Des McAnuff. Songs are written by Giorgio Moroder, Paul Jabara, Summer herself, as well others. Tony-winning director Des McAnuff (The Who’s Tommy) serves as director for the production, with Tony-nominee Sergio Trujillo (On Your Feet!) providing the choreography. Ron Melrose will supervise the music.
Scenic design for Summer: The Donna Summer Musical will be by Robert Brill, costumes by Paul Tazewell, lighting by Howell Binkley, sound by Gareth Owen and projections by Sean Nieuwenhuis. Summer: The Donna Summer Musical is produced by Tommy Mottola and the Dodgers.
Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals and maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.