Bio musicals have become somewhat of a trend on Broadway. The latest addition is Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. Originating at La Jolla Playhouse, it was a dream of Summer's to have a musical about her life on stage, something she spent almost two decades dreaming about, hoping it would end up on Broadway. Now her life is on Broadway, but without her since her death a few years ago.
LaChanze, Ariana DeBose, and Storm Lever star as the Donnas: Diva Donna, Disco Donna, and Duckling Donna, respectively. Each portrays her at a different stage in her life, with Lever also playing her daughter Mimi, and LaChanze also playing her mother Mary Gaines. I did not get to see LaChanze, however I saw Christina Acosta Robinson and she was incredible! Ariana DeBose is a powerhouse and it's clear to see why she got her Tony nomination and she can dance incredibly well, making that Chita Rivera Award so well deserved. Storm Lever is wonderful in her Broadway debut and also has a lovely voice.
While the show wasn't wonderfully reviewed upon opening, it's become the new hit of the season, making over 1 million dollars last week while being completely sold out. It's a fun audience to be a part of, as people are on their feet dancing and clapping by the time the last song starts. The music itself is really good. I went in knowing nothing, but soon realized I knew some of her songs without realizing they were hers. Some of the standout numbers include "MacArthur Park", "Bad Girls", "She Works Hard for the Money", "Hot Stuff", and "Last Dance".
The story itself gets a little hazy. Diva Donna acts as the narrator for most of the show, but there's a lot of time jumping in the beginning to middle part of the show, making the viewer a little unsure of where each event falls in her life. By the end of the show this problem is sorted out however, and the timeline is a much clearer. Since the show is only 100 minutes it feels a bit rushed at times but I don't see how it could have been a two act show, since it works as one act, despite it's flaws.
Whether you know everything about Donna Summer or know nothing, this is an enjoyable show. Everyone leaves dancing and you probably can't have a bad time.