Donna Summer Musical Set For Broadway Bow

From the Hollywood Reporter:

Broadway’s gotta have some “Hot Stuff” next spring. Producers Tommy Mottola and The Dodgers confirmed Tuesday that Summer: The Donna Summer Musical will begin previews March 28 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre ahead of an April 23 opening.

The bio-musical tracing the life and career of the singer, who teamed with music producer Giorgio Moroder and Casablanca Records to make many of the defining hits of the disco era, will wrap its tryout engagement at La Jolla Playhouse Dec. 24.

The fast-track to Broadway had been rumored in recent weeks, after the Lunt-Fontanne — one of Broadway’s most centrally located musical houses, close to Times Square — became available with the imminent closing of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

More from Entertainment Weekly:

Told through the dramatic lens of her final concert, Summer explores the artist’s meteoric rise and tragic fall, and features three actresses in the main role as well as more than 20 of Summer’s iconic hits in the score, including “Love to Love You, Baby,” “Bad Girls,” and “Hot Stuff.”

The book is written by Colman Domingo, Robert Cary, and Des McAnuff, with the production directed by Des McAnuff. More details on the Broadway transfer are forthcoming, but at La Jolla, Tony winner LaChanze (The Color Purple), Ariana DeBose (A Bronx Tale), and Storm Lever (Playhouse’s Freaky Friday) played, respectively, “Diva Donna,” “Disco Donna,” and “Duckling Donna.”

On a very related note, the Cher musical lands on Broadway in the fall of 2018.

  • SkokieGuy [ChicagoAdjacentGuy]

    Are the Tony’s adding a new category?

    That being said, I grew up with Donna and will probably see it anyhow. Is that bad?

    • Bambino

      Cause when you’re bad, you’re so so bad……:P

      • SkokieGuy [ChicagoAdjacentGuy]

        Toot toot

      • AJ Drew

        so so SO SO bad! (Hi?)

  • another_steve

    Girl defined disco back in the day.

    There was that…umm…unfortunate episode when she allegedly said not-nice things about gay people. But she denied it, and either way we forgave her.

    • Jon Doh

      We forgave her? I never got the memo. She was dead to me but maybe I’ll have to rethink that. Hers was the first disco album I ever bought.

      • another_steve

        Here’s a write-up of the episode that appears on her wiki page:

        In the mid-1980s, Summer was embroiled in a controversy. She allegedly had made anti-gay remarks regarding the then-relatively new disease, AIDS. Summer, by this time a born-again Christian, was alleged to have said that AIDS was a punishment from God for the immoral lifestyles of homosexuals.

        Because of this alleged statement, thousands of her records were returned to her record company and she became the target of a boycott which hurt her career. Summer publicly denied that she had ever made any such comments, and in a letter to the AIDS campaign group ACT UP in 1989 said it was “a terrible misunderstanding.”

        In explaining why she did not respond to ACT UP sooner, Summer stated “I was unknowingly protected by those around me from the bad press and hate letters. If I have caused you pain, forgive me.” She closed her letter with Bible quotes (from Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians).

        Also in 1989, Summer told The Advocate magazine that “a couple of the people I write with are gay, and they have been ever since I met them. What people want to do with their bodies is their personal preference.” A couple of years later, she filed a lawsuit against New York magazine when it printed an old story about the rumors as fact, just as she was about to release her album Mistaken Identity in 1991.

        According to a Biography television program dedicated to Summer in which she participated in 1995, the lawsuit was settled out of court, though neither side was able to divulge any details.

        • Jon Doh

          Thank you for posting this. I have voluntarily relinquished my gay card until I am determined to be worthy again.

        • Steverino

          Being the librarian and former academic I am, I don’t like to provide research using quotes or paraphrasing without providing citations (links), but thought this might be relevant. Once several years ago I was noodling around informally on the internet when this subject came up, and I found a quote from Donna circa 2011 from a European publication where she was asked about this old controversy, and she said it happened “many years ago, backstage after one of my concerts with people who wanted to meet me. Were heated words exchanged? Yeah. Did I say that? No. But I apologize and ask for forgiveness.” “That” being the allegation she said (according to the original article in the Village Voice, as well as the later article in New York magazine over which she sued) that AIDS was sent by God as punishment for being gay. She always steadfastly denied this, but never to my knowledge elaborated on what the “heated words” were. I also recall coming across a quote from Giorgio Moroder saying “Donna was always very remorseful about that (incident).”

          In addition, I came across postings from individuals who claim to have been there at the incident who could not recall much of anything specific that was said, as they say there was a lot of shouting back-and-forth with many people talking all at once. None of the accounts came across as being antagonistic toward Donna, as they were supposedly just fans who wanted to meet her. One eyewitness account was from a woman who wrote that the controversy began when somebody present angrily accused Donna of being a “hypocrite” for agreeing to pray with a person with AIDS who approached her at this meet-and-greet, and then the “heated words” ensued. This eyewitness wrote she was trying to hear what Donna had to say, but could only make out something about “God sends these diseases, and…” The eyewitness was sympathetic toward Donna, though, and cautioned that “at the time, Donna was still in the throes of her recent born-again conversion…” Had this happened at a much later date, the ubiquitousness of smart phones capable of recording what happened could have made all the difference in verifying the controversy (as with Michael Richards at his weird racially-charged rant at the Laugh Factory in 2006).

          If I could recall from several years ago where I found these quotes I would provide links, perhaps somebody more knowledgeable about Donna Summer trivia could find them, and whether or not they were ever repudiated or refuted.

          Personally, I was a big Donna fan back in the day, but it was the born-again stuff coming suddenly from a celebrity who was supposed to be a “gay diva” that turned me off about girlfriend, regardless of the veracity of the later “controversy.” But as far as I’m concerned, she redeemed herself by taking responsibility for the controversy with her apology in 1989, albeit having cringeworthy elements seeming like both a non-apology apology and a non-confession confession, referring to it as a “rumor” but then oddly over-explaining it. Whatever. But it was her charitable fundraising afterward for AIDS relief through her concerts dedicated to that effort that restored my previously favorable opinion of her.

          • another_steve

            Great comment, Steve. Juicy and thoughtful. Thanks.

            Wild guesses here (not fact-based, just guesses):

            Perhaps she was basically a good woman who was suckered into fundamentalist religion by money-hungry scumbag preachers who knew she had countless millions of dollars in the bank.

            Perhaps she fought with her “better angels” to reconcile what she knew to be true about her largely queer fan base and what the preachers were telling her. Perhaps she verbalized something heinous at one point and perhaps she later regretted it, knowing how wrong and evil the utterance was.

            We can only guess, today.

          • Steverino

            My understanding from what I have read over the years is that she had at the time multiple “issues” with depression, substance abuse, etc., and then “found God.” Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but coming out as born again at that particular era (early 1980s) without explanation or reassurance to her huge gay fan base just struck me at the time as being rather, ahem… tone deaf. As you and I and any of us older JMG readers know, that was when the born-again anti-gay backlash was at it’s peak, as well as that time being the emergence of the AIDS crisis. To her credit, she never specifically aligned herself with the anti-gay politics of the born-again movement, but neither did she criticize or distance herself from it, either. That is what turned me off to her. You have to think, what the hell was she and especially her “handlers” thinking? Since disco was “dead,” was this just a cynical career move to transition into gospel or Christian music, and gain street cred with the born-again crowd? I suppose not, but the “optics” just didn’t look good. And her assertion that she didn’t respond to the boycotting of her records because her associates were shielding her from “hate mail” just seems to me to be one of the lamest excuses since “the dog ate my homework,” especially coming from someone who claimed to have scores of gay friends. Were they all shielding her from this, and was she really that sheltered from the boycott that she didn’t know it was damaging her career?

            To give her the benefit of the doubt, perhaps she was under a gag order from the settlement of her lawsuit against New York magazine not to discuss the particulars which made her seem rather vague and cagey in discussing it, so there is that. But I just find it fascinating how she is given such a pass by her diehard fans, when any other celebrity who comes out as born again is (almost always rightfully) assumed and ridiculed as being automatically anti-LGBT, even if no scandal of an anti-gay action or utterance has ever been alleged with them. Think Tim Tebow, for example.

            If Donna Summer has been given an undeserved anti-gay rep from those days, this could have easily been pre-emptively thwarted by her by following the example of her contemporaries Bette Midler, Cher, Barbara Streisand, the emerging younger performers Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, and even her friend Dolly Parton who established themselves as open and unquestionable allies of their gay fan base and the LGBT community, even considering the times. Had Donna Summer followed suit early in her career, the damage to her reputation with the community could have been successfully blunted, IMO.

  • LosFelizGuy

    Why are the Dodgers involved?

    • JoeMyGod

      Dodgers Theatricals, not the baseball team.

      • JCF

        I totally didn’t notice you beat me to the punch, Joe. 🙂

    • Bambino

      Baseball, disco ball. It’s all balls in the end. 😛

    • JCF

      Huh: I really thought the (cursed!!! said the SF Giants fan ;-/) LA baseball team would have kept legal control of the name.

      “THE DODGERS – Producer

      Dodger Theatricals is a producing partnership hatched at BAM in 1978 by Michael David, Edward Strong, Rocco Landesman, Des McAnuff, Doug Johnson and Sherman Warner. From the initial foothold in Brooklyn, the Dodgers grew, migrated to the NY Shakespeare Festival, then to off and
      on Broadway, where their productions have garnered a host of national
      (Tony, Drama Critics Circle, Obie) and international (Olivier, Helpmann
      and Dora) awards.”

  • CanuckDon

    I’d love to see this but I’ll skip the final act.

  • Rex

    Her music was the soundtrack to my coming out, so I should have a part in the musical.

  • HZ81

    Yay. I used to have such a crush on her when I was a boy. A few years later, my personal Netherlands discovered Billy Idol and never looked back.

    I do adore her still, though. Miss you, Donna. She really had one of the most perfect and glorious voices ever.

    • another_steve

      When her music came on, it was impossible not to get up and dance. Her (as you put it) perfect and glorious voice – plus the most amazing, addictive melodies.

  • perversatile

    I think I’ll just re-watch “Thank God it’s Friday” instead

    • PickyPecker

      I saw that in the theater during its (very) short release!

    • alc2018

      I’ll take the black dude with the peeping pecs for a thousand Alex!

    • Dazzer

      I’ve never seen it and I doubt I’ll ever want to. But thank you for introducing me to what I suspect is the highlight of the movie.

  • AJ Drew

    Ah, a nice diversion, thank you Joe. Toot toot, hey…

    • Bambino

      Pee pee?

      • AJ Drew

        funny, but dammit, bringing me back to reality!

        • Bambino

          It’s not a bad thing if its done by the right people for the right reasons.

          • AJ Drew

            true, but neither is enjoying a moment of FTW escapism!

    • JCF

      …beep beep! 😀

  • gaycuckhubby
  • JoeMyGod

    The Lunt-Fontanne is one of my favorite Broadway houses. Not as intimate as most (1500 seats!) but gorgeous interior.

    • Texndoc

      I always think of it as the theater next to the Gaiety. Remember the Gaiety? Madonna’s book? Oh that old sticky place. One of MY favorite Broadway houses, not many seats but gorgeous intimates.

  • Henry Auvil

    Nice to have a dollop of gay news after the House Tax Scam vote. Donna made Madonna possible.

  • gaycuckhubby

    WOAH!!! 🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨

    • Bambino

      Would that not be challenge for a recount like forever?

      • gaycuckhubby

        It’s actually being recounted right now in a courtroom. These are live updates from the final count in front of the judge.

    • JCF
    • JCF

      It’s been added that the possibility is to TIE in the House of Delegates (and the House, unlike the Senate, has no tie-breaker). Still, better than the alternative!

  • Slippy_World
  • Henry Auvil

    Ms. Summer was the headline performer (along with Julio Iglesias) at a fancy AIDS benefit I attended in North Miami Beach back in the early ’90s. Sophia Loren made an appearance and Rosemary Clooney was seated at my table. It was about as gay an experience as you could get.

    • AJ Drew

      Mambo Italiano… just cuz.

      • GanymedeRenard

        JMG! One of my favorite tunes ever! I first discovered it as part of the soundtrack of Mermaids (starring Cher, Winona Ryder, and Christina Ricci, trailer below; a movie I love!). I’ve been a fan of Ms. Clooney since then.

        • Henry Auvil

          If I recall correctly, it was also the music for the opening credits of the late, great Jonathan Demme’s “Married To the Mob”.

          • GanymedeRenard

            I’ve never watched it, but it’s now on my list. Thank you!

          • Dazzer

            A young, thin and gorgeous Alec Baldwin in his black underpants – definitely something you should consider having a look at.

          • GanymedeRenard

            He’s never been my cup of tea (casual homophobia and a history of violence), but hey, staring a male groins is one of my guilty pleasures. I’ll check it out!

          • Dazzer

            I understand entirely. If it makes it any better, it stars Michelle Pfeiffer and she is utterly fab, Fab, FAB, F.A.B. Virgil (one for the Thunderbirds fans)

        • olandp

          Come on-a my house.

          • GanymedeRenard

            (I think I’m missing a reference here… More clues, please?)

          • olandp

            Your gay card is in danger of being revoked!

          • GanymedeRenard

            OMG, of course! Sorry, too many merlots this afternoon! *hic*

    • GanymedeRenard

      What a lucky man you are!

  • Bambino

    I don’t think that I could bake it. Cause it took so long to make it. Plus I never have the recipe anyway……

    • AJ Drew

      Meh, a steady hand, the right color mix for the icing, it can be done, but the hard part is getting the Gilded Unicorn to shit dead-center on the cake.

      • Dazzer


        Insert your very own Mr Burns “Excellent” gif right here.

        Superb, AJ. Superb.

  • GanymedeRenard

    You know, I wasn’t even born when “Hot Stuff” was released, but she is and will be one of my favorite goddesses in my own gay pantheon until thy kingdom come. What a fabulous lady!

    • JCF

      Oh Baby….

    • ikahana

      Yeah, I wasn’t born yet either (cough cough)

      • GanymedeRenard

        Ok? I don’t know about you, but I was born in ’79.

  • greenmanTN

    Tessanne Chin performs Last Dance at the White House for Pres and Mrs Obama.

    • skyweaver

      Hey that was great, I hadn’t seen it. She’s amazing

      • Bambino

        She is another powerful vocalist. I followed her journey on The Voice where she won the season.

  • Lars Littlefield

    I read “bio-musical” and thought, “Organic, like bio-diesel? A musical made from soy beans?”

  • Cuberly Deux
  • alc2018
  • JCF

    I posted this late night a couple of days ago, but want to share again…because I love it so! <3 Always makes me feel Good…

  • gaycuckhubby

    Update from Virginia!
    FINAL recount of a house race is concluding in front of a judge. The Republican had a 10 vote lead on Election night but after recounting the Democrat now holds a ONE VOTE lead. the hearing is about to come to an end and if the Democrat wins then the house of delegates in Virginia flips to democratic control!

  • mr wonderful

    Boston has had a Donna Summer Roller Disco party for the last 3 summers.

  • JT
  • M Jackson

    I saw “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and I can only hope that this time the Lunt Fontaine is trading up.

  • garyjorlando

    saw it in LaJolla last week. You girls are in for a treat! I hope they beef the writing up some as it was a bit weak, but the LED constant moving set and singing/music were incredible. The actress does address the “gay” issue and sings that beautiful song “friends unknown”. The crowd gave an ovation after that part!

  • Dayglo

    Forty-five minutes of the musical is an extended mix of “I Feel Love,” followed by an hourlong Casablanca Records sponsored cocaine binge at intermission.

    • David Walker

      Sounding better and better. Don’t forget the 8 minute “Last Dance.” Actually, I hope they take a lesson from “Mama Mia” and have curtain call followed by an extended disco session. My lord, that was fun. IN HERSHEY!! People tend to leave as soon as the perceived end has arrived (the parking lot is truly a bitch and the line lasts forever); the first few got through, but it didn’t take long before the aisles were filled with audience/dancers. I could see that happening with this, too.

  • Scout

    I saw this, its AMAZING! !!

  • Eric

    I saw this last week. It’s enjoyable because of the obviously amazing songs and the amount of effort put forth by the tremendous talent…but…the set design is over the top bonkers (you can have a stroke just watching things move left and right and up and down and all over again throughout the entire thing) and the book is written like they are reciting wikipedia. They address her AIDS and gay comments with an out of the blue one-minute monologue that dares you to defy it, which felt like some savvy producer wrote just before the actor took the stage. Summer is presented heavily as a devoted wife and mother with the Studio 54 period mostly glossed over, and then they pretty much force you to stand and dance at the end.
    So, obviously, its intended Broadway audience will love it.

    • Dazzer

      Thanks for the review.

      It’s sort of what I expected the show would be like.

      I’m not criticising the show, just agreeing that your review makes sense.

  • Deviancy Behavir

    The current slate of Broadway shows coming to Chicago in 2018. The Cher Show premieres here before going to Broadway and Pretty Woman, or how I like to call it a $20 is a $20. We’re also getting Dear Evan Hansen and I can’t wait to see that. It’s interesting to see so many female driven shows being headlined and promoted for 2018 packages. I just love it. I’m going to fight like hell to get a ticket for the Cher Show. I’ve seen The Waitress when I was in NYC last year and it’s a great musical, On Your Feet premiered here almost 2 yrs ago, but I wasn’t interested in that. But this 2018 looks ripe with great shows to see, so I won’t be bored.

  • Rob NYNY

    When I lived in Germany in the 1980’s, there was a radio documentary called “Der Orgasmus in der Musik.” It illustrated things like Octavian’s ejaculation in the short prelude to “Der Rosenkavalier” just before the curtain goes up to reveal him and his older lover in a post-orgasmic refractory phase. But according to the documentary, the record holder was Donna Summer, who “simulated dozens of orgasms” in her repertory. I have never heard her music apart from that broadcast, so I don’t know if it is true, but it seemed pretty convincing at the time.

  • sergemstrp
  • Ogre Magi

    Isn’t she some anti-gay evangelical?