"Summer" is The Hot New Jukebox Musical To See

The Dazzling Donna Summer Musical Reviewed By Deborah Howell

November 8, 2019
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Last week I listened in ecstasy to Sam Smith’s new version of “I Feel Love.” If Donna Summer had done nothing else in her whole career besides writing and record that one song, she would still leave a huge legacy in the collective world consciousness and in the annals of music. 

But she did more. Way, WAY, more. And it’s all on luxurious display for you to experience all over again! "SUMMER" is live at the Hollywood Pantages for the next couple of weeks.

I went to opening night and the audience was absolutely swooning to “I Feel Love” no more than 5 minutes into the production, which featured not one but three “Donnas” at various ages of her life—all singing up a sensational storm. 

Olivia Elease Hardy, as “Duckling Donna” was plucky and sincere—and gave us insight into some of the disturbing events that shaped Ms. Summer’s early life—inside and outside of church. 

“Disco Donna” (Alex Hairston)  gave us the artist who changed the face of music with her ultra-sensuous songs and wild spirit.  Her voice was pitch-perfect and she had all the glitter, gams and gumption to go along with it. The blistering rendition of “On The Radio” sent shivers up and down my spine.

“Diva Donna”  (Dan’Yelle Williamson) belted out the Jimmy Webb classic “MacArthur Park” with all the authority of the original. She provided a glimpse of Donna Summer’s challenging and remarkable life through the years as a singer, mother, and wife as she fought for respect in the eyes of the press, her paramours, and the label head (Neil Bogart of Casablanca Records played by John Gardiner) who’d become her best frenemy.

Clever staging and millions of disco lights kept the pace of the production flowing nicely, and the orchestra was top-notch through every decade of music. The androgynous ensemble was nimble and eye-catching.

For fans of Summer, this is a must-see show. Trust me—you will Love to Love it.

“Summer” plays The Hollywood Pantages Theatre through Nov 24th.  Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com or at The Hollywood Pantages Box Office.