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  Summer: The Donna Summer Musical Reviews
Summer: The Donna Summer Musical
Nederlander Theatre

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Somewhat Recommended

"...But you do have to sit through some pretty rough scenes that veer back and forth between the personal and the professional, getting trapped in the behind-the-music-with-the-guys-in-suits stuff that so rarely works in these kinds of shows. It is a very rough book, carelessly abandoning most of its scenes in mid-flow for self-serving monologues. And since the tour is slightly cut down, that’s more obvious than was the case on Broadway."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times- Somewhat Recommended

"...The missed opportunities are glaring: Summer (born LaDonna Adrian Gaines) was an African American woman who became a star in 1970s Germany, a place so white that strangers would come up to Summer on the street to touch her skin, the musical tells us. That’s all we hear about that. She references a Judy Garland-level problem with pills, which is also dropped shortly after it’s brought up. Her $10 million lawsuit against Casablanca Records flies by, framed not by Summer’s bravery in taking on an industry titan, but by the death of Neil Bogart (John Gardiner), the man in charge of the label."
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Catey Sullivan

Daily Herald- Somewhat Recommended

"...Unfortunately, this theatrical trifurcation isn't utilized to its fullest in the disappointing script by Colman Domingo, Robert Cary and Des McAnuff. They opt for a speedy overview that hopscotches back and forth through time while pausing at key moments as if to strike them from some sort of artistic checklist."
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Scott C. Morgan

Chicago Reader- Highly Recommended

"...At the end of it all, Donna Summer proved herself to be more than just the "disco queen" of the 70s. But even if she's only remembered for disco music, Summer reminds us that that's A-OK, too."
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Janaya Greene

Time Out Chicago- Somewhat Recommended

"...The show's lightness serves its goofier impulses better than its serious ones. The dancing lawyers that accompany Summer's lawsuit against her former record company are a delight; the scene where her German ex-boyfriend beats her in time to the beat of the score is not. Robert Falls brilliantly employed "Last Dance" in his 2013 staging of Measure for Measure; Summer simply uses the song as its finale, like a reward for having made it through the night. But while the production's all-around blandness is disappointing, it's Sergio Trujillo's run-of-the-mill choreography that truly underwhelms. If there's one thing the Queen of Disco's story demands, it's dancing worthy of the subject. "
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Alex Huntsberger

Stage and Cinema- Highly Recommended

" between there’s enough of the real and legendary Donna Summer, manifested three-fold, to satisfy the “Friends Unknown” as “I Remember Yesterday.” Not a dull note or moment for club kids of all ages."
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Lawrence Bommer

Let's Play at ChicagoNow- Recommended

"...There was so much more to Summer's life; her life was innately intense. She battled with racism, abuse, depression, sexism, the $10 Million lawsuits with Casablanca Records, and her relationship with the LGBTQ community. Although it seems that Director Des McAnuff, (book by Colman Domingo, Robert Cary, and Des McAnuff) eluded to some of Summer's pivotal factors in her life in snippets, he did well, highlighting a catalog of her music which defined the 70s and 80s."
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Rick and Brenda McCain

Around The Town Chicago- Recommended

"..."The Disco Queen" was her title, and now her story is onstage at The Nederlander Theatre as Broadway In Chicago presents "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical". With a book by Colman Domingo, Robert Cary and Des McAnuff and the music by Summer herself along with Giorgio Mroder, Paul Jabasa and others, we get a glimpse of this superstar and her life. Directed by McAnuff and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo, this is a slick, concert-like biography of a voice that is familiar to every American who danced to it during the "Disco" period."
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Alan Bresloff

Chicago Theatre Review- Recommended

"...This 2018 musical, which only played on Broadway for less than a year, is certainly fun, but as a musical it’s ultimately unfulfilling. The script is trite and doesn’t shed very much light on this important performer who was nicknamed The Queen of Disco. The show reduces her to a mere concert artist, instead of a minor miracle of pop music. Ms. Summer was an important pioneer of using the pulsating electronic synthesizer to drive the tempo of her songs. She became an icon for the Studio 54 crowd and gay party boys around the world. Aside from a trio of stellar performances, with all three talented actresses playing Donna Summer at various ages of her life, an energetic, gifted supporting company of primarily female singer/dancers and an almost two dozen hit songs that defined the Disco Era, this musical is enjoyable but not at all groundbreaking."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews- Somewhat Recommended

"...We have been exposed in recent years to an excess of musical biographies, most of them living up to their derogatory label of “juke box musicals” that try to make a buck off the show’s hit songs. Occasionally, we get a bull’s-eye like ”Jersey Boys” and the Carole King tribute “Beautiful.” So it can be done. On the evidence of the “Summer” book, the artist didn’t lead a life sufficiently diverse and exciting to sustain an evening long musical. The show’s artistic brain trust might have better served the audiences and the box office by presenting the three Divas and the cream of the ensemble, backed by the disco band, in a concert version of the show. The most successful moments in the musical were the powerhouse renditions of “MacArthur Park,” “The Last Dance,” “Love to Love You Baby,” “Bad Girls,” and “Hot Stuff.” An evening devoted to Summer’s biggest hits delivered in inspired interpretations by Williamson, Hairston, and Hardy would disarm all criticism. Still, there is enough of the musical magic supplied by the three Divas to sustain a tolerant audience of disco and Summer fans."
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Dan Zeff Highly Recommended

"...Though I loved her music and her voice, I knew little about the celebrated Queen of Disco, Donna Summer - before seeing the Broadway in Chicago show about her. Summer: The Donna Summer Musical tells it all, an engaging narrative spiced with the diva's great music, beautifully performed."
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Bill Esler

Chicago Parent- Recommended

"...Summer: The Donna Summer Musical not only brings the story of the disco legend to life, but the jukebox bio-musical will have any fan grooving to the music. What better way to spend the night out without kids than dancing and singing with your friends? It's encouraged at this show!"
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Katina Beniaris