The pre-Broadway U.S tour of the new autobiographical Donna Summer musical, Ordinary Girl, has been pushed back a year until spring 2000. The tour was to have begun April 26 in Chicago, then wend its way across the nation, ending on Broadway in fall 1999. But Summer has opted to spend the summer on a concert tour in support of her new album on Sony records.
"This pushes the project back about a year," said spokesman Peter Holmes a Court [sic]. "We're fine with that. Donna will come out of this a larger figure."
Summer will appear on VH1's "Behind the Music" program, and a concert of hers, taped at New York's Gramercy Hammerstein Ballroom, will also air on the cable network. Holmes a Court said Ordinary Girl, a musical version of Summer's life starring the singer, will now begin its tour in spring 2000, landing on Broadway that fall.
Ordinary Girl, conceived by and starring Summer, will tell the life story of the one-time disco queen. Holmes a Court said the score will consist of 16 new songs, all written or co-written by Summer, along with some of the '70s dance hits that made her famous. Her hits included "Last Dance," "She Works Hard for the Money" and "Hot Stuff." Summer's writing partners include Al Kasha (who wrote "Hot Stuff"), Bruce Sudano, and Michael Omartian -- all men she's worked with for years. The score ranges from disco anthems to power ballads to "Broadway-story-advancing songs," in Holmes a Court's words.
Unlike Paul Simon, Barry Manilow, Elton John and other pop stars who have ventured into the musical theatre in recent seasons, Summer has a background on the legitimate stage, having, in her youth, toured Europe in such shows as Hair. "She understands what it means to be on stage," said Holmes a Court. "She has no fantasies about it. She knows what it takes."
Summer refers to her new project as "contheatre," a hybrid of the stage and the stadium. "The story is told in the backdrop of a concert, and a concert grows out of the story," explained Holmes a Court. "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."
Ordinary Girl is co-produced by Steve Leber Productions and Back Row Productions. Plans are underway for an overseas tour as well.
-- By Robert Simonson