Bridgeport's LaChanze Stars As Disco Diva In Broadway's "Summer'
In the Broadway musical “Summer,” Tony Award-winner LaChanze plays “disco queen” Donna Summer as an older artist looking back on her life and career.
Three actresses play the five-time Grammy Award-winner Summer at various stages of her life in the show which brims with a long string of hits Summer had in the ’70s and ’80s. (Summer, born LaDonna Adrian Gaines in Boston, died in 2012 of cancer at the age of 63.)
The look-back perspective as the older “Diva Donna” is something in which LaChanze can relate.
“There’s a line at the end of the show when I say, ‘I’ve played a lot of roles in my time,’ and boy, there’s a lot of LaChanze there, too,” said the actress recently from her dressing room.
It’s a peaceful, cream-colored room, decorated with a set of nine Moroccan prayer bells. LaChanze, looking a decade younger than her 56 years, seems right at home as she cozies up on the couch for a talk about her life in Connecticut — and beyond.
There’s a lot of synchronicity with “Summer,” she says. The Lunt Fontanne Theatre, where “Summer” is playing, is the same venue where LaChanze made her Broadway debut 32 years ago in the unsuccessful musical, “Uptown…It’s Hot.” She points to a framed photograph of that cast on the wall. “I was third girl from the left,” she says.
Since that 1986 show, her track record has improved immeasurably. Her Broadway credits include the original production of “Once On This Island,” where she earned her first Tony nomination. She also became the first person of color in a Broadway revival of “Company.” Other main stem credits include “Dreamgirls,” “Ragtime” and “If/Then.” Off-Broadway she received an Obie Award for the musical “Dessa Rose.”