What Did Critics Think of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical World Premiere?

The Verdict   What Did Critics Think of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical World Premiere?
Tony winner LaChanze, Ariana DeBose, and Storm Lever star as the disco icon in the world-premiere musical at the La Jolla Playhouse.
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LaChanze Kevin Berne

Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, which charts the life of the Queen of Disco through the dramatic lens of her final concert, officially opened November 19 at the La Jolla Playhouse.

Directed by Jersey Boys Tony winner Des McAnuff, Summer has been a hot ticket since previews began November 7. The production recently announced a second extension through December 24.


Tony Award winner LaChanze (The Color Purple), Ariana DeBose (Hamilton), and Storm Lever (Freaky Friday) play Summer at various stages in her life, taking on the respective roles of Diva Donna, Disco Donna, and Duckling Donna.

Summer features a book by Colman Domingo, Robert Cary, and McAnuff. The score includes more than 20 of the singer’s classic hits, including “Bad Girls,” “She Works Hard for the Money,” “Dim All the Lights,” “MacArthur Park,” “On the Radio,” and “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough).”

Read reviews below. Check back for updates.

The Hollywood Reporter (Deborah Wilker)

The Los Angeles Times (Charles McNulty)

The San Diego Union-Tribune (James Hebert)

The cast of Summer also includes Mackenzie Bell, Kimberly Dodson, Anissa Felix, Drew Foster, Ari Groover, Afra Hines, Aaron Krohn, Jenny Laroche, Wonu Ogunfowora, Rebecca Riker, Christina Robinson, Ken Robinson, Jessica Rush, Kaye Tuckerman, Jared Zirilli, Aurelia Michael, and Andra Caston.

The musical is choreographed by Sergio Trujillo. Musical supervision is by Ron Melrose, and orchestrations are by Bill Brendle. Victoria Theodore serves as music director and conductor.

Rounding out the creative team are scenic designer Robert Brill, costume designer Paul Tazewell, lighting designer Howell Binkley, sound designer Gareth Owen, projection designer Sean Nieuwenhuis, and dramaturg Shirley Fishman. Casting is by Tara Rubin.

Visit LaJollaPlayhouse.org for more information.

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