Dropping the Disco Ball Early In Donna Summer, the Musical @ Pantages

When you think of a disco 70’s queen,’ the first  vocalist to come to mind is the iconic, dazzling Donna Summer.  Los Angeles theatre goers have  recently had the  pleasure to experience her eventful life onstage at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood.  The show cleverly portrays Donna in triplicate: Disco Donna (Alex Hairston), at height of her career; Duckling Donna (Olivia Elease Hardy) in her adolescence; and Diva Donna (Dan’Yelle Williamson) at a more mature stage, reflecting back. The show presents standout sequined dazzling choreographed numbers such as “Enough is Enough,” “I Feel Love,” “On the Radio,” and culminates with “Last Dance.”  Each song brings nostalgia of my teenage years during that decade, as Donna Summer’s music provided the soundtrack, including memorable moments, dancing at parties,  homecoming and prom.  Not all sugar coated, the show also delves into traumatic cornerstones of the vocalist’s life, such as loneliness on her path toward stardom, away from her daughter; domestic abuse; and a diagnosis of terminal cancer.  Donna Summer proves her internal strength and ‘survivor chops,’ as she overcomes obstacles and continues performing.  A particular favorite of mine, “MacArthur Park,” evoking visceral images of the landmark, right in the backyard of downtown Los Angeles.  Her tunes change mood and setting, in a matter of minutes, from “Dim All the Lights,” to “Bad Girl.”  Truly, all songs give the audience the opportunity to breathe in the magic of a legend, diva singer & dancing queen, gone way too soon, at the height of her career.  Another number promoting women’s empowerment, a timeless subject about gender rights for equal pay, is “She Works Hard for her Money.” Donna is backed up by an exquisite ensemble, singing their hearts out.  The finale of “Last Dance” leaves the audience wanting even more, as elegant silver confetti tangibly  drapes the front of the theatre, replete with strobe lites and silver disco ball. Snappy songs, over the top costumes, and turbulent personal life add to the overall musical, in portraying her compelling life story.  In total the show’s score consists of 23 songs, written primarily  by Summer, Giorgio Moroder, Pete Bellotte, and Paul Jabara.  As Broadway has taken a chance with presenting larger than life biography stories on a theatrical level, it has indeed succeeded with the story of Donna Summer.


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About Bonnie Priever Curtain Up!

I am a theatre reviewer extraordinairre. I attend and cover theatres ranging from large to small venues, and every subject from musical theatre to dramatic presentations. Also please check out my reviews at www.examiner.com and www.tolucantimes.com my email is bonniedeb13@hotmail.com
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