Broadway Stars Join Cast of La Jolla Playhouse's World Premiere Donna Summer Musical

A Tony Award-winning actress, Broadway star and Playhouse actress will portray the title role

A Tony Award-winning actress, Broadway star best known for her work in "Hamilton" and an actress from Disney's "Freaky Friday" the musical will each play the title role of Donna Summer in various stages of her life in the La Jolla Playhouse's new world premiere musical. Performances start Nov. 7. 

The musical will tell the life of Donna Summer - the voice of a generation, and the queen of Disco - through the lens of her final concert. 

LaChanze, who won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical in 2006 for her role in "The Color Purple," will take on "Diva Donna." Ariana DeBose, known for her work in "A Bronx Tale" and "Hamilton," will play "Disco Donna." Storm Lever, seen in Disney's "Freaky Friday" musical, will play "Duckling Donna." 

“Led by three powerhouse actresses in the title role, the cast of this dazzling new musical is poised to give full, glorious voice to the story and music of Donna Summer,” said Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley in a statement.

The score features more than 20 of the singer's classic hits, including "Love to Love You, Baby," "Bad Girls" and "Hot Stuff." 

Playhouse Director Emeritus Des McAnuff, known for bringing "Jersey Boys" and "The Who's Tommy" to life, helms the world premiere production. Olivier Award-winning Sergio Trujillo ("Jersey Boys", "Memphis", more) will choreograph.

The musical features a book by Colman Domingo, Robert Cary and McAnuff. Musical supervision by Ron Melrose.

The creative team also includes UC San Diego faculty member and former La Jolla Playhouse Artist-in-Residence Robert Brill ("His Girl Friday," "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots") as scenic designer, Tony Award-winning Paul Tazewell ("Side Show," "Hollywood") as costume designer; multiple Tony Award winner Howell Binkley ("Jersey Boys," "Come From Away") as lighting designer; Tony Award winner Gareth Owen ("Come From Away," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame") as sound designer; Bill Brendle for orchestrations; Victoria Theodore as music director and conductor; Shirley Fishman as dramaturg; Tara Rubin in casting; and Andrew Neal as stage manager.

“In addition to our Director Emeritus Des McAnuff, SUMMER also reunites Playhouse audiences with a ‘dream team’ of designers whose work has been seen in dozens of memorable productions," Ashley said in a statement.

Rounding out the cast are Mackenzie Bell as “Giorgio,” Kimberly Dodson as “Dara/Amanda,” Anissa Felix as “Adult Mary Ellen,” Drew Foster as “Brian,” Ari Groover as “Ami,” Afra Hines as “Maid/Michael,” Aaron Krohn as “Neil,” Jenny Laroche as “Pastor/Norm,” Wonu Ogunfowora as “Mary Ellen/Brooklyn,” Rebecca Riker as “Bob/Don,” Christina Robinson as “Adult Dara,” Ken Robinson as “Andrew Gaines,” Jessica Rush as “Joyce,” Kaye Tuckerman as “Pete” and Jared Zirilli ("Lysistrata Jones") as “Bruce Sudano,” along with swings Aurelia Michael and Andra Caston.

The show runs until Dec. 17. Tickets start at $58. To purchase tickets, call Playhouse Patron Services at (858) 550-1010 or buy them online by clicking here. 

Contact Us