I’ve resisted seeing any of the biopic musicals because I’d want to sing along, not remain in my seat, and I knew much of the history of many of the performers.. But when I was invited to join other disco loving women to see Summer: The Donna Summer Musical I got out my lamé jumpsuit, teased my hair and went along. I do love her music and didn’t know much about her origins.
I’d have been better off reading Wikipedia and then putting on a “Best Of” compilation. The three performers who play Summer at various stages of her life – Storm Lever in her Broadway debut as Young Donna, Ariana DeBose as Disco Donna (displaying great singing and dancing), and the always phenomenal LaChanze as both Diva Donna and her mother – are all excellent and I did want to get up and sing and dance along. But the plot (I’ll generously call it that) is hamfisted. We’re hit over the head with “how Donna got to this song.” So when she talks about the fact that she used to love driving around, listening to music on the radio, can you guess what song was performed? And it was disconcerting to see Summer being abused with “No More Tears” playing in the background.
After seeing this show I don’t think every singer’s life is worthy of a musical. Or if a playwright wants to give us backstories, they have to respect both their subjects and their audience and not be trite in the storytelling. AFW
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre 205 W 46th St
Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes (no intermission)
Runs thru: Open-ended
Ticket Prices: $48-$179 discounts available TKTS & discount ticket sites