“After I’m unhealthy, I’m so, so unhealthy,” Donna Summer season sang in “Final Dance,” and that completely describes the brand new Broadway musical about her life.
“Summer season,” which opened Monday, is borderline incoherent. It turns a fancy lady’s life right into a hagiography, a slide present of occasions — Boston childhood, stint in Europe, fame, motherhood, sickness — minus context or emotion.
Three ladies play her at totally different factors in her life, which they narrate like Bible passages. Storm Lever’s Duckling Donna, Ariana DeBose’s Disco Donna and LaChanze’s Diva Donna are wonderful, particularly DeBose (late of “Hamilton”), they usually sing the heck out of “MacArthur Park,” “I Really feel Love,” “On the Radio” and extra. Hassle is, in addition they play the girl’s mom, pals and sisters. Preserving monitor of the double casting is a wrestle.
You’d assume the songs would redeem this present. Summer season sang a number of the greatest dance music of all time, and 23 traditional numbers are jammed into lower than two hours. However a number of the tunes right here — together with a rendition of “No Extra Tears” Summer season belts out whereas being crushed by her German ex — are arduous to get pleasure from.
Des McAnuff, who provides us extra ups and downs than a coronary heart monitor, directed this mess. Remarkably, he’s the identical man who made a success out of “Jersey Boys.” This time he appears to have Scotch-taped collectively some wonky concepts, similar to having ladies play producers David Geffen and Giorgio Moroder. That may have been fantastic if McAnuff truly dedicated to it, however Casablanca Information president Neil Bogart is performed by a dude, as are Summer season’s lovers, so no matter level McAnuff was attempting to make is misplaced.
For a present that overtly encourages theatergoers to face up and dance, their solely actual alternative to take action comes on the finish and lasts all of three minutes. Earlier than then, we get some awkward enterprise in regards to the anti-gay remarks Summer season reportedly made at a 1983 live performance. Though she denied she’d mentioned them on the time, a lot of her most devoted followers had been upset. In “Summer season,” the singer, who died of lung most cancers in 2012, gives an evidence, an apology and a declaration of how a lot she loves her homosexual followers. True or not, it’s an inexpensive second.
Sufficient is sufficient!