Fuzzy donna summer at la jolla playhouse
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Summer: The Donna Summer Musical (La Jolla Playhouse)

From 7 critic and 24 member reviews
Members say: Great singing, Entertaining, Great acting, Delightful, Great staging

About the show

This world-premiere musical charts the life of Donna Summer, the undisputed Queen of Disco, from her modest Boston childhood to international stardom. Directed by Tony winner Des McAnuff. More…

Told through the dramatic lens of her final concert, 'Summer: The Donna Summer Musical' presents the complexities and conflicts the iconic songwriter and singer faced in her meteoric rise–and descent. Featuring three actresses in the title role and a score with more than 20 of Summer’s classic hits including “Love to Love You, Baby,” “Bad Girls,” and “Hot Stuff,” this show is a tribute to the voice of a generation.

Talkin' Broadway

"A too familiar biographical sketch of an artist who overcame obstacles to achieve success and died too young. Along the way, there's some pretty cringe-worthy dialogue...The saving grace is that the show looks and sounds as exciting as an audience of fans would want...As director, Mr. McAnuff paces the performance sharply and with admirable discipline...It is already a flashy audience favorite. If the writers prop up the book, its future may be even brighter." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Her catchy songs, turbulent life and billowing ball gowns are all rich source material, but this show moves almost too fast. While sprawling iconic lives can never quite be tidily summed up in such productions, a few too many milestones in Summer's career are missing here...Despite its missteps, there is still so much to like, particularly the three women portraying the title character in different phases of her life...While this version of her life isn't quite Broadway-ready, it has all the... Full Review

San Diego Reader

"This may be the most dazzling show ever staged at the Playhouse...But the story, about an emotionally complex woman with at least 12 sides, is CD thin...Every technical effect moves a consistently frenetic pace...You could almost say Brill has created the visual equivalent of disco...If fans of Summer just go for the music, the rewards are many...The music pays a blaring-thumping tribute to the great artist. But along with being skimpy, the book feels tentative and holding certain truths back." Full Review

Times of San Diego

"It needs a lot of work. The show is both overdone and underdone...A few scenelets that give a cursory glimpse of her experiences, but no depth of insight or character. The other people in her life are ciphers. Donna is said to have broken down barriers, battled prejudice, but we get none of that...There’s no denying that 'Summer' is entertaining. The music is energetic and some of those songs are unforgettable...But the sum total is much more like a concert than a book musical." Full Review

San Diego Union-Tribune

"What’s most surprising about La Jolla Playhouse’s world-premiere Donna Summer musical is how little it seems to engage with that phenomenon or the context it evolved in...Songs are frustratingly condensed in the process...There’s not much sustained music to this musical for a good while...'Summer' delves into plenty of its subject’s difficult personal struggles, but is less adept at showing why she and her music mattered so much to the wider world." Full Review

Los Angeles Times

"I don’t need this flimsy bio musical, and neither do you...The lack of playwriting imagination is startling...Certainly no shortage of danceable tunes. But the way the songs are cut up suggests that what works well on the dance floor isn’t necessarily effective onstage. The backstory of the music is often clunky and contrived, but there are moments of genuine feeling...The musical is such a patchwork that the chapters of Summer’s life flash by in cursory fashion. Nothing has much impact." Full Review


"The lazy script and perfunctory direction fail to energize the production...The script...dances frantically from one plot point to another with the finesse of a runaway train. All three performers playing Donna strut with empowerment. They have outstanding pipes, and they capture Summer's essence and trademark sexuality...The generic and uninspired writing sells out Summer's significance. More than anything, it's a show full of emptiness." Full Review

Delightful, Great acting, Must see, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if If you love Donna Summer's music, you will love the show.

Don't see it if You don't want to learn about Donna Summer

Exquisite, Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if If you "like" Donna Summer you will LOVE THIS!!

Don't see it if DON'T LIKE DISCO!!

Delightful, Masterful, Fun, Great singing, Shiny

See it if You're a fan of disco, Donna Summer, LaChanze, Ariana DeBose, or Jersey Boys.

Don't see it if You steer away from Jukebox Musicals.

Also This is a real party show - it's got a lot of substance as well, but t... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Fun, Great singing, Great staging, Great dancing

See it if You want to see a jukebox musical that captures all the joy of pop music, but performed by a cast that belts out like Broadway divas.

Don't see it if You are expecting an award-winning book of a musical: yes, the story is thin, but the show still works!

Ambitious, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You like jukebox musicals and Donna Summer. It was good, but it didn’t do her justice.

Don't see it if You don’t like jukebox musicals or Donna Summer.

Great singing, Fun. enjoyable, great songing

See it if If you liked the disco era and the queen of disco you must see this show even though book leaves a lot to be desired

Don't see it if don't see it if disco music is not your thing

Absorbing, Indulgent, Slow, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You love disco! Incredible singing and an interesting story. Be prepared for weeks of listening to her music after seeing it.

Don't see it if You dislike Disco or Summers; have no room in your heart for sparkle.

Also I saw this during the La Jolla run and really enjoyed it. The book nee... Read more Read less

Delightful, Cliched, Overrated

See it if You like Donna Summer and her music.

Don't see it if You wanted to hear Donna Summer herself singing. It's not her but the singers were ok.

Confusing, Entertaining, Great singing, The disco queen on broadway

See it if You remember the fabulous Donna Summer or if you want to be introduced to her music. The singing is terrific!

Don't see it if You are looking for a well written book.

Also The performance by LaChanze is worth the price of a discounted ticket.... Read more Read less

Funny, Great writing, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if If you enjoy listening to Donna Summer’s music and would also like to learn about her life, see this show!

Don't see it if If you don’t like concert type Broadway shows, or Donna Summer’s music, then don’t see this show.

Ambitious, Delightful, Enchanting, Relevant, Great singing

See it if you enjoy great singing

Don't see it if you expect a good story

Disappointing, Slow, Entertaining

See it if you love the music of Donna Summer and are interested in her life story

Don't see it if you want a show with smooth scene transitions as I found this show a little dull despite the wonderful songs

Ambitious, Cliched, Entertaining, Great singing, Fluffy

See it if if you like fluffy entertainment and enjoy the music of Donna Summer and appreciate modern casting/staging.

Don't see it if if you want to see a truly developed play with more depth to the characters involved. It felt overreaching.

Indulgent, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if you are a Donna Summer groupie and adore her music

Don't see it if you are interested in really getting to know her, or if you like theater with substance

Delightful, Enchanting, Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if Who would not enjoy the music of Donna Summer's? It was amazing! Had you on your feet dancing the whole time!!

Don't see it if If you were not a disco fan.

Funny, Great acting, Must see, Great singing, Great staging

See it if Delightful

Don't see it if N/a

Enchanting, Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if Great musical

Don't see it if Na

Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You would like to hear good songs and voices

Don't see it if If you don't like Donna Summer

Absorbing, Enchanting, Entertaining

See it if you love donna summer

Don't see it if you are not a fun of donna summer

Disappointing, Entertaining, Familiar music, Nowhere as good as the one and only donna summer, Always waiting for more

See it if You loved the disco era

Don't see it if You hate disco

Indulgent, Overrated, Entertaining, Good music, Mediocre acting

See it if You love Donna Summers music.

Don't see it if You are not a huge Donna Summers fan. It’s what makes the show

Funny, Delightful

See it if You like Band kind of Music and humor.

Don't see it if If you have children 👶 it’s not really for them

Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if Great music and dancing! Funny and serious at the same time. I learned a lot about the Queen of disco!

Don't see it if You don’t like musicals.

Disappointing, Excruciating, Overrated

See it if The music did not sound like Donna Summer, the production had too much resonance and they used women to simulate the men that danced to her

Don't see it if Didn’t sound like Donna Summer and the sound was echoey