The Donna Summer Tribute Site

Summer Fever Pick for September 2017:

The Musicals

Navigate this page: [Hair] [Godspell] [The Me Nobody Knows] [Child Of The Promise] [Ordinary Girl] [Dreamway Express] [Site Navigation]

Wenn der Mond im siebten Hause steht ... 

As most of you know, Donna got her professional start by doing musical theater in Europe. She left high school to land in the Munich production of the rock musical, Hair and then stayed in Europe for a number of years doing productions of Godspell, Porgy & Bess, The Me Nobody Knows and Showboat. Most people think that Donna's involvement with musical theater stopped once she returned to the US, but that's not true. Even while she was busy churning out pop hits, she still managed to put together a treatment for a musical called Cindy, based on the Once Upon A Time album. And throughout the years, she managed to sneak in quite a few show tunes into her usual concert lineup. For a time she was doing Send In The Clowns, another time she did The Impossible Dream, and Don't Cry For Me Argentina was part of her set for several years. She even covered Don't Rain On My Parade (Take that Barbra! ;-) ) In 2000, she participated in the studio-musical Child Of The Promise, and over the years even wrote a few musicals of her own  - notably Ordinary Girl which is based on her own life story. She previewed a few songs from that at concerts and if those songs are any indication, then she created something really special. And if that's not enough - Donna's even worked on a children's musical called Dreamway Express. So what better reason could we have to take some time to examine Donna's career in musical theater?   :-) 

** NOTE: Because of the large number of tracks involved in this month's page, only those tracks that feature Donna in some capacity will have audio clips. I didn't bother with some of the ensemble numbers because it's not always easy to pick her out.

Hair (1968)

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I'm sure most of you reading this have heard of the musical Hair. It is a groundbreaking celebration of hippie culture in the late 60s. It pretty much covers (in a fun way) sex, drugs, racism, the anti-war movement, you name it. It was quite shocking and controversial at the time it came out. But while it does have a thread of a story that pulls the whole show together, it's really more of an experience than a play.

Because Hair became so famous (or infamous depending on your point of view) it is the easiest to find of all of Donna's German cast albums. Collectors should be aware that there are several different versions with different cover art (the CD reissue is pictured here), and if you are persistent, you can probably find the Wasserman single.

 

Tracks:

Click audio icons for an MP3 sample

1. Wassermann - Donna, Ensemble
2. Donna - Berger, Ensemble  
3. Manchester - Claude, Ensemble  
4. Ich bin ein Farbiger - Hud, Ensemble  
5. Ich hab kein... - Nando, Charlie, Lyvia, Ensemble  
6. Luft - Jeanie, Chrissy, Donna  
7. Ich bin reich - Claude, Ensemble  
8. Bergab - Berger, Horst, Ensemble  
9. Haar - Claude, Berger, Ensemble  
10. "Nein" sagt sich so leicht - Sheila  
11. Frank Mills - Crissy  
12. Hare Krishna - Ensemble  
13. Wo geh' ich hin - Claude, Ensemble  
14. Black Boys - Renate, Stella, Barbara, Verina  
15. White Boys - Donna, Tommy, Ann
16. Schweben im Raum - Donna, Minoru, Renate, Ensemble
17. Rot, Blau und Weiß - Nando, Udo  
18. 3500 - Ensemble  
19. Hat's der Mensch nicht weit gebracht? - Tommy, Chrissy  
20. Die letzten Sterne - Sheila, Ensemble  
21. Finale - Claude, Sheila, Donna, Ensemble  

 

Quotes & Things

Donna left high school to audition for Hair. She ended up in the German touring company, and the rest is history....
I have a few pictures of Donna in Hair posted in the photo gallery.
Donna's segment from Behind The Music: Hair, 2001.
Donna talking about Hair on Rosie O'Donnell, June 1999

 

Some Pictures

This is some of the actual Haare publicity from back in the day.  Click any of them for a larger image.

haare1.jpg (666937 bytes) haare2.jpg (498561 bytes) haare3.jpg (466874 bytes)

 

Videos

Flesh Failures (Donna at 2:25)

Manchester England (Donna briefly at :50)

Hair (good luck finding Donna in this one)

What A Piece Of Work Is Man
(again, good luck spotting Donna)

Wasserman live in Berlin 2009

 

Godspell (1972)

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Godspell is the story of Christ's teaching, crucifixion and resurrection according to the gospel of St. Matthew - only they set it in "modern" times. ("Modern" of course being the early 70s.)  Donna is a featured vocalist on 2 of the songs and her ex-husband is a featured vocalist on another. The original vinyl version of this album is very hard to find, but a couple of years ago a CD version was released - probably because somebody figured out Donna was on it! LOL I believe the CD version went out of print for awhile, but it turned up at Amazon.com shortly after Donna passed away. (The cover picture shown is from the CD.) But if anyone out there is on a quest for the vinyl, it's on Reprise Records (rep 44176). One other thing, on the original vinyl, Donna was credited as "Gayn Pierre."

 

Tracks:

1. Bereitet den Weg - Joe Bogosyan  
2. Gott, hilf den Menschen - Heinz Ehrenfreund  
3. Tag für Tag - Marion Marlon  
4. Lernt eure Lektion - Angelika Milster  
5. Oh, segne Gott mein' Seel - Donna Summer
6. Dann hat sich's gelohnt - Heinz Ehrenfreund, Joe Bogosyan  
7. Gut und schön - Rod Keating
8. Du bist das Licht der Welt - Roland Astor, Donna Summer, John Waddell
9. Kehr um, oh Mensch - Angelika Milster  
10. Geschieht euch recht, was kommt - Heinz Ehrenfreund  
11. Warum mußt du gehen? By My Side  - Hannah Hoger  
12. Wir beschwör'n dich - John Waddell  
13. Auf den Weiden - Helmut Sommer  
14. Finale - Heinz Ehrenfreund  
15. Lang' leb' Gott - Ensemble  
16. Tag für Tag (reprise) - Ensemble  

 

The Me Nobody Knows (1971)

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The Me Nobody Knows is a somewhat obscure musical based on the writings of ghetto children. It doesn't have a story so much as it's a series of soliloquies. The odd thing about this soundtrack is that it exists in two formats - one in German and one in English (but with the exact same cast!) Weird, huh? This one is by far the most difficult of Donna's cast albums to find, but it's not impossible. (You guys in Europe have the edge on this one!) As with Godspell, Donna is credited as "Gayn Pierre." Because this one is so hard to find, the clips here are actually full songs.

 

Tracks (English):

1. Dreambabies - Shirley Thompson  
2. Light Sings - Ingeburg Thomsen, Donna Summer, The Company
3. This World - Laura Currie, Ingeburg Thomsen, The Company  
4. How I Feel - Donna Summer
5. The White Horse - Charles Williams  
6. If I Had A Million Dollars - The Company  
7. Sounds (reprise) - Ingeburg Thomsen, Donna Summer, The Company  
8. Fugue - Laura Currie, Sibylle Nicolai, Saroda Ray, Donna Summer
9. Sounds - Ingeburg Thomsen, Donna Summer, The Company
10. The Tree - Peter Hedrich  
11. Something Beautiful - Shirley Thompson  
12. Black - The Company
13. Let Me Come In - The Company  

 

Tracks (German):

1. Dreambabies - Shirley Thompson  
2. Licht singt - Donna Summer, Shirley Thompson, Ensemble
3. Die Welt - Laura Currie, Ingeburg Thomsen, Ensemble  
4. Was wird aus dem sein - Sibylle Nicolai, Charles Williams  
5. Ich leib Girls - Bruno Ferrari, Ensemble  
6. Was ich fühl - Ingeburg Thomsen  
7. Hätt ich eine Million Dollars - Ensemble  
8. Fuge - Laura Currie, Sibylle Nicolai, Ingeburg Thomsen, Donna Summer
9. Schall - Donna Summer, Ingeburg Thomsen, Ensemble
10. Der Baum - Peter Hedrich  
11. Etwas herrliches - Shirley Thompson  
12. Schwarz - Ensemble
13. Schall (reprise) - Donna Summer, Ingeburg Thomsen  
14. Laß mich herein - Ensemble  

 

Child Of The Promise (2000)

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Child Of The Promise is the Christmas story set to music. It's a musical on CD (although it did later tour with some of the CD cast) with Donna playing the role of Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. Now, because it's a whole musical on CD, not every track is a song. Some are "recitatives" - sung intros to the songs - and some are just incidental dialog to move the story forward. Donna appears on 4 tracks - 2 recitatives and 2 songs, and the rest of the cast list reads as a who's who of inspirational music. One interesting thing, the Omartians wrote all the vocal parts with specific singers in mind. So when they wrote Elizabeth's part they already had Donna in mind. 

 

Tracks:

1. The Way It Will Be - The Prophets  
2. You Will Call His Name - Gabriel  
3. After All These Years - Zacharias  
4. Zacharias And Gabriel Recitative  
5. Elizabeth Recitative
6. When The Dream Never Dies - Elizabeth
7. Gabriel And Mary Recitative  
8. Let It Be To Me - Mary  
9. The Mary I Know - Joseph  
10. Mary And Elizabeth Recitative
11. I Cannot Be Silent - Mary and Elizabeth
12. Townspeople At The Temple  
13. He Will Prepare The Way - Zacharias  
14. Townspeople At Joseph's House  
15. Children In The Stable  
16. Joseph And Mary Recitative  
17. I Wanted All That For You - Joseph and Mary  
18. Nothing Ever Happens To A Shepherd - Shepherds  
19. Glory To God - Gabriel and Angels  
20. Shepherds Recitative  
21. We Have Come To Worship Him - Shepherds  
22. Wise Men And Herod  
23. I Have To Do What I Have To Do - Herod  
24. Joseph And Simeon Recitative  
25. What My Eyes Have Seen - Simeon and Anna  
26. Wise Men Recitative I  
27. We Have Seen The Light - Wise Men  
28. Wise Men Recitative II  
29. Joseph, Mary And Prophets Recitative  
30. Child Of The Promise - Joseph, Mary And Angels  

 

Ordinary Girl (unreleased)

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Ordinary Girl is the play that Donna was working on (and talking about) for the last who knows how many years. It is based on Donna's life story, and rather than being just a straight musical, it will be a conthearto (a combination of concert and theater.) There will be 16 new songs and new versions of some of her big hits like She Works Hard For The Money, Hot Stuff and Last Dance. Although Ordinary Girl is still a work in progress, Donna used to perform songs from it in her regular shows. If you want an idea of the plot of the musical - read Donna's 2003 book, Ordinary Girl: The Journey. (When you read the book, keep the song titles below in mind. You'll be able to see where many of the songs fit into the story. ) Now that Donna is no longer with us, it's hard to guess what will happen to Ordinary Girl. I can only hope that it comes out in some form or another someday.

2017 Update: There is a musical debuting in La Jolla , CA at the end of the year called The Donna Summer Musical. It is almost certainly based on Ordinary Girl.

* Note: In the context of Ordinary Girl, if I say "Donna" (in quotes), I am referring to the character in the play and not the real flesh and blood person.

 

Tracks:

Note: This is most likely NOT the correct track order

1. No Ordinary Love Song (D.Summer/M.Omartian)  
2. My Life (D.Summer/P.Waterman/P.Berry/G.Miller)
3. If There Is Music There (D.Summer/M.Omartian)
4. My Dream Is For You (D.Summer/M.Omartian)  
5. Bitter End (D.Summer/M.Omartian)  
6. Rain-Rain (D.Summer/M.Omartian)  
7. Arms And Legs (D.Summer/M.Omartian/A.Kasha)  
8. Be Rich (D.Summer/M.Omartian/A.Kasha)  
9. Gotta Have a Dress (D.Summer/M.Omartian/A.Kasha/B.Sudano)  
10. This Forbidden Fruit (D.Summer/M.Omartian/A.Kasha/B.Sudano)  
11. I Found A Star (D.Summer/M.Omartian/A.Kasha/B.Sudano)  
12. Begin Again (D.Summer/M.Omartian/A.Kasha/B.Sudano)  
13. Chairman Of The Board (D.Summer/M.Omartian/A.Kasha/B.Sudano)  
And other songs including new versions of classic hits.  

 

Quotes & Things

My Life is probably the most well-known of the Ordinary Girl songs. It's was in Donna's shows for a number of years starting in 1997 and it appears on the Live & More Encore CD. Donna introduced it by explaining that at that point in the play, her character doesn't know if she can go back out on stage. So she says a little prayer and musters her strength to go back out there. It is a slow to fast song like Last Dance
If There Is Music There made its debut on the Live & More Encore video. At this point in the play, "Donna" realizes that just being a wife and mother isn't enough - she has a calling to be on stage. Her husband goes to her and asks if there is music there, and she says "yes" and she has to go.  One interesting thing about this song is that Donna (the real Donna, not the character  LOL) did it a little differently on tour than she did in the video. In the video it's done strictly as a solo number - all the words are "Donna's". But on tour, it was sort of a duet even though Donna sang it alone. (Have I confused you yet?  LOL) You see, after Donna introduced the song she said "And he says..." then she would sing part of the song, and then she'd say, "And then I say..." and she'd sing more of the song. So rather than expressing the point of view of one character, on tour the song expressed the point of view of two. It will be interesting to see how they stage it for the play itself. (I hope they haven't given up on it!) On a side note, after Donna passed from lung cancer, the song took on a whole new meaning for a number of fans.
No Ordinary Love Song, is the love duet of the play and Donna performed it on tour in 1997 and 1998. Usually she did it as a duet with Michael Mallet, but at Carnegie Hall, Gene Miller stepped in. (Some of you might remember him from Donna's tours in the late 80s and early 90s.) At this point in the play, "Donna" has been abused and left by a former boyfriend, and the man who really loves her comes and wants to tell her how he feels. But he's a little shy and naturally chickens out (typical guy!  LOL), so he ends up singing to the moon. The way it was staged on tour, Michael Mallet would start the song and then Donna would come back out half way through and join him.

I don't have a clip of the song to post for you, but to give you a taste of what the song is like, here are some of the lyrics:

Sometimes when I turn
You're standing unaware
And I'm filled with desire
Then again despair
What can I do?
Please tell me
Can't I make you see?
You're everything I need
You are the missing key
I'll be your instrument of love
You'll play every chord in me

Be Rich is a humorous uptempo song about "Donna's" arrival in "Hollyweird" and the subsequent efforts to make her into a diva. The song is about projecting the right image - the image of being rich. (A real diva has got to be rich, right?  LOL)  Donna did this one in the 1999 tour and since I don't have a clip of it, I'll give you a few of the lyrics to give you a little taste of what it's like:

You gotta be rich
You gotta live like you're rich
You gotta be rich
You gotta act like you're rich
You gotta be rich
You gotta smell like you're rich
You gotta be rich
Be rich
Ooo ooo ooo

Begin Again hasn't officially escaped the vault, but it has been heard by some fans. It is a slow to fast song about "Donna" having to pick herself back up and begin again.
"The story is told in the backdrop of a concert, and a concert grows out of the story. There will be a point in the musical where you're not sure if you're in a musical or a concert. Donna doesn't want to judged by the yardstick of what is a concert or the yardstick of what is a musical."

- Peter Holmes a Court (producer), Playbill September 18, 2002

BONUS AUDIO:  A quote from Behind The Music: Donna Summer (VH1 1999). Listen closely, that's a studio version of My Life you hear in the background.
BONUS AUDIO: A quote from Behind The Music: Donna Summer (VH1 1999). Listen closely, that's a little of No Ordinary Love Song you hear in the background.
BONUS AUDIO:  Mary Bernard talks about Ordinary Girl on Behind The Music: Donna Summer (VH1 1999). 
BONUS AUDIO:  Larry Flick talks about Ordinary Girl on Behind The Music: Donna Summer (VH1 1999). 
BONUS AUDIO:  Donna talks about the writing team for Ordinary Girl in a 1999 syndicated UK interview. 
BONUS AUDIO:  Donna talks about writing the book for Ordinary Girl in a 1999 syndicated UK interview. 
BONUS AUDIO:  Donna talks about Ordinary Girl on Behind The Music: Donna Summer (VH1 1999). 
BONUS AUDIO:  Donna talks about her mom on Behind The Music: Donna Summer (VH1 1999). 
Somehow one of the Ordinary Girl tracks found its way to YouTube.  Enjoy this rare leak of Begin Again

 

Dreamway Express (unreleased)

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Dreamway Express is a children's musical that Donna was working on (and talking about) around 2003. Not much has escaped from it yet, although she did sing Dreamway Express a while back at a songwriters' event in Nashville - and brought the house down with it from what I'm told! Then a dance version of Dream-A-Lot's Theme (better known as I Will Live For Love) was included on The Journey: The Very Best Of Donna Summer. (The US release of that title has two mixes, while the UK release only has one.) Donna's performed it live at a couple of concerts in 2003-4 and she used to introduce it by explaining that Dream-A-Lot is a young prince who is singing about his future love in the song.

You can check out the lyrics to Dream-A-Lot's Theme and a so far unheard track called Dreamway on Nathan DiGesare's website. (Dream-A-Lot's Theme is listed as Dreamway's Theme.)

 

Tracks

(Obviously there most be more, but these are all I know of)

Dreamway Express (D. Summer/ N. DiGesare)  
Dream-A-Lot's Theme (I Will Live For Love) (D.Summer/ N. DiGesare) *This is a dance version from The Journey
Dreamway (D. Summer/ N. DiGesare)  

 

Videos

A symphonic version of I Will Live For Love from 2006
This is probably how the song would sound in the context of the musical

Purchase Info

The Me Nobody Knows is out of print and difficult to find. Your best bets are to try Ebay, Gemm or MusicStack and hope you get lucky. (It might be easier to win the lottery or get hit by lightning.  LOL)  The Godspell CD release was out of print but turned up again as an MP3 release (Amazon, Amazon UK)  when Donna passed away. Hair is much easier to find, both the CD and the vinyl show up fairly regularly on Ebay and Gemm. The CD can be found on Amazon and Amazon UK, and the MP3 version is available on Amazon UKChild Of The Promise can still be found, but most offline vendors will consider it a seasonal item because it tells the Christmas story.  Amazon has it in stock but only as a marketplace item. Offline you may have to look in Christian stores to find it, depending on your area. And of course, Ordinary Girl has never been released, but you can find My Life on the Live & More Encore CD and video and If There Is Music There on the DVD only. (OK, it's on the VHS too but really, does anybody still buy VHS tapes?) You can still get Live & More Encore [Amazon, Amazon UK] just about anywhere you want. And Dream-A-Lot's Theme can be found on The Journey [Amazon, Amazon UK]  the American release has 2 mixes, but the UK release only has one.

 

     

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