VOL. 25 - NO. 31
AUG 2 - 9, 2020
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OAKLAND, CA 94661-0283

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TRAVEL & ENTERTAINMENT: “Donna Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” Is a Tribute to the Voice of a Generation

Dec 06, 2019
by Aaron Pewtherer
Filling the stage with singing, bright lights and well-choreographed dancing, “Donna Summer: The Donna Summer Musical,” currently playing at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Theatre (1 Taylor Street) through December 29, serves as a musical documentary of her life, taking the audience through a lyrical joyride, that begins with the teenage singer moving to Munich, Germany in 1967, to perform in a production of the musical, “Hair.

Known as the ‘Disco Queen of the 70s’, superstar diva Donna Summer was born in 1948 as LaDonna Adrian Gaines in Boston, MA. She was first recognized as a talented singer at age 10, singing in front of her church choir, wowing the congregation and especially impressing her strict father. This introduces “Duckling Donna” (portrayed by Olivia Elease Hardy), the first of three versions of Donna that are interwoven throughout the production.

She then marries an Austrian actor, and has her first daughter, Mimi. However, after a divorce, Donna returns to the US in the mid-70s, becoming “Disco Donna” (portrayed by Alex Hairston), as the singer records a string of surprising R&B and disco hits, and is credited for starting the electronic dance music craze. Unfortunately, a series of events almost dissuades the singer from continuing her career, and almost ending her life.

Peppered throughout the production is the eldest Donna, known as “Diva Donna,” impressively performed by Dan'yelle Williamson, who gives specific references that the singer was a stalwart artist, an idol for future generations, had an exquisite moral compass, sues the scrupulous recording industry for better artist contracts, recovers strongly from an abusive lover, starts a second family, and finally, after leaving the music industry, becomes a successful visual artist.

With a score featuring more than 20 of Summer’s classic hits including “Love to Love You Baby,” “Bad Girls” and “Hot Stuff,” this electric experience is a moving tribute to the voice of a generation.

This retelling of Summer’s life not only examines an ebullient era in music but aims to give the trailblazing songstress, who died in 2012, her rightful place in pop culture. Her catchy songs, turbulent life and billowing ball gowns are all rich source material, but this show — a quick one hour, 45 minutes without an intermission (rare for a musical) — moves almost too fast.

The show contains flashing strobe lights and may not be suitable for children ages 12 and under. For tickets or more information please visit www.broadwaysf.com.


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