Review of “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical”

There are three cast members as “Donna” who bring the story to life of the late musical artist Donna Summer in “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” currently performed through May 8, 2022 at the Bass Concert Hall in Austin, TX as part of Texas Performing Arts’ Broadway in Austin 2021-2022 season.
The Donnas — played by Brittny Smith, Charis Gullage and Amahri Edwards-Jones – star in the musical based on a book written by Colman Domingo, Robert Cary and original direction by Des McAnuff.

The storyline is generally linear with any or all of the Donnas appearing in scenes that move the artist’s story forward or flashback at different stages of her life. All three have solo spots but come together for some songs. They are all entertaining as they represent and interpret Summer’s style that is so much a highlight for those who lived during this generation of 70s music. Their powerful voices take the audience back to the memories made to the songs of the day. Summer had fame in the mid-70s with the very memorable “Love to Love You Baby.”

The musical weaves song and story together with the songs “I Feel Love,” “On the Radio,” Bad Girls,” “Hot Stuff,” “She Works Hard for the Money” and many more over the course of the show with no intermission.

Directed by Lauren L. Sobon, the musical is upbeat and so is the audience, until the audience learns about some of the situations that impacted the artist’s life. She was brought up in the church and while her gospel singing was recognized by the congregation, the later revelation of sexual abuse by a minister is painful. The scene brought the audience to total silence. She also had a troubled first marriage with life-threatening domestic violence. Thankfully she did not take a near-suicide leap from a hotel window during a time she was doing well in her career. She then goes through the deaths of her parents and later her own illness that led to her death from lung cancer at age 63.

These points in her life are handled delicately via the stage performance as it is woven among the music performances that lifts the audience up, along with the ensemble dancing. If you are a fan of the real artist Donna Summer, you will not be disappointed in this representation by the very talented cast. The costumes are phenomenal and very representative of the eras.
Bass Concert Hall, 2350 Robert Dedman Austin, TX 78712. The show is at 8pm during the week and on the weekend, as well as afternoon performances Saturday and Sunday. For more information: visit Broadway in Austin and tickets can be found at

Texas Performing Arts is the performing arts presenting program of The University of Texas at Austin and operates campus venues including Bass Concert Hall and McCullough Theatre. It is the home of the Broadway in Austin series. Visit the website for the next season shows that have been announced.

Source: Broadway in Austin

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