Artists Series Presents Donna Summer Musical on April 7th

Victoria Ware, Reporter

The life of renowned singer, Donna Summer, will be explored in the theater production of “Summer: the Donna Summer Musical” on Apr. 7 at the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center. 

“I’m playing Donna Summer in her younger years, so between the ages of 11 and 15” Amahri Edwards-Jones—who will play Duckling Donna in the play—said. “In this part of her life, she’s just finding her confidence.” 

“She was not very confident at all,” Edwards-Jones said. “She would put on performances with her siblings in her house for her family members, but she just wasn’t very confident to sing in front of other people that she didn’t know.” 

“So, in this time, she found her voice in the church,” Edwards-Jones said. “That’s where she… thought that God provided her with this voice, and this is when she found out that she wanted to spread her voice across the world.” 

Edwards-Jones became more familiar with Summer’s life story after being cast in the musical. 

  “I knew some of her songs, but I really wasn’t very familiar,” Edwards-Jones said. “Like, I knew ‘She Works Hard for the Money’ and ‘Last Dance’ and of course when the Broadway show first originally came out, I listened to the cast album and I got more familiar. But I wasn’t very familiar with her story or her as a woman.” 

The musical shows the different stages of Summer’s life and important moments in both her career and her personal life.  

“It covers her whole life,” Edwards-Jones said. “So, I start off in her younger years, and then Charis Gullage—she plays Disco [Donna]—that’s when… she goes to Germany and she meets all of these record producers and she starts to make the hits that we all know.” 

Edwards-Jones went on to say, “Then Brittny Smith, who plays Diva Donna is basically narrating. She plays the oldest Donna, so she’s wise. She’s narrating her whole life and then she also introduces us to her daughters and Bruce Sudano, her husband… It also goes into when she gets sick, so we really do see her whole life.” 

Edwards-Jones also said that Summer paved the way for many contemporary female artists within the music industry. 

“I hope the audience takes away how important it is to speak up for their selves” Edwards-Jones said, “because what I took away from Donna Summer is she spoke up for herself and it paved the way for so many artists of today just by getting the rights to her music and going through that whole legal battle.” 

“I feel that without Donna Summer we wouldn’t have acts like Beyoncé and Rihanna because she did so much within their industry,” Edwards-Jones said. “I know it took a lot out of her and it was very brave of her, but I think she was thinking about the women who came behind her, not just herself.”