The Donna Summer Tribute Site

Ken's Korner:

Summer: The Donna Summer Musical 

 

OPENING NOTE FROM CATHY:  THERE ARE SPOILERS HERE: READ AT YOUR OWN RISK! On to Ken...

Yes, it’s me, and I’m back, and just as opinionated as ever !

Summer, The Donna Summer Musical.

Run, Fly, Drive, Train, or whatever it takes to get to Broadway, and see this heartfelt production.

This column us full of spoilers, so read at your own consent.

The production tells Donna’s story, both known, and unknown by using her songs, hits and otherwise, to spin both the highs of lows of her life and career.

The three actresses who portray her, Ariana DeBose as Disco Donna, Storm Lever as Duckling Donna, and LaChanze as Diva Donna, do justice to Donna and then some.

LaChanze is the stand out here, she acts as the Emcee for the production, and when she takes the stage and sings she has Donna’s mannerisms, and costumes down to to a T.

None of the three sound like Donna, and that is a good thing, this is Broadway, not an impersonation show, that said all three are talented vocalists and they all have standout moments.

For me Storm Lever's turn on On My Honor is her moment, she takes a song that can have many moods, and brings a youthful innocence to it. Youthful innocence from someone who has already seen much, much more than kids should have to deal with.

Ariana DeBose nails it on MacArthur Park, and Dim All The Lights sung completely as a ballad. Dim All The Lights is done at the moment in the show when Donna attends Neil Bogart’s funeral. Ariana’s version struck another sad note with me as she reminded me of Laura Branigan, another talent taken far too soon.

The gender bending cast brings a level of art to the show that allows it to rise above being another “jukebox” musical. The female band does the same, and yes when they are on stage they are really playing the instruments.

The scene where Donna’s former boyfriend Gunther stalks her is beyond graphic, be prepared for it.

I remember a number years ago attending the show The Boy From Oz with Hugh Jackman, and from the first musical number with Hugh, I felt  a horrible feeling of sadness, as Peter Allen (no relation) still had so much to give.

That said, I wondered how I would get through watching Summer. First it is a compelling story, and I enjoyed what every cast member brought to their roles, multiple roles in many cases. Second, yes tears filled my eyes on a number of occasions including To Turn The Stone, and Friends Unkown.

Where did I just loose it ? The shows ends with two great hits played just as they were in concert. Ariana goes over the top Hot Stuff, and by the end she had the Broadway crowd on their feet  Then LaChanze comes out, looking, acting and dressed VERY much like Donna, I lost it before she could even sing the first line of Last Dance.

Enjoy this grand show.

One word of suggestion, we were sitting in the Orchestra,and it was clear the crowd in the Balcony was the party spot. People from the balcony were screaming We Love Donna Summer. You may want to consider balcony seats. In fact in true Donna style,LaChanze welcomes the crows in the balcony when she starts her first of many monologues.

Special thanks to Bruce Sudano for continuing to share his personal love story with Donna.

And

Tommy Mottola for getting the the show on Broadway.

 




 

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