"Summer: The Donna Summer Musical" - The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts (Worcester, MA.) - REVIEW

(COVER PHOTO: The 2022 Touring Company of "SUMMER - The Donna Summer Musical" coming to the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. March 31 through April 3, 2022. Photo Courtesy of the Tour website)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

Contact: 774-242-6724 

"Gotta have some love tonight" 

The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts




Book By Colman Domingo and Robert Cary 

Director Lauren L. Sobon 

Choreographer Natalie Caruncho 

Associate Choreographer Angelica Beliard 

Original Direction Des McAnuff 

Original Choreography Sergio Trujillo

Cast Includes: Brittny Smith,  Charis Michelle Gullage, Amahri Edwards-Jones, Porter Lee Anderson III, Christopher Lewis, John Guaragna, Layla Brent-Tompkins, Sy Chounchaisit, Mia Davidson, Kayleigh Hegarty, Ciara Jones, Lily Kren, Marisel Lopez, Francisco Risso, Lathan Arrkel Roberts, Nissi Shalome, Sara Shomgard, Kyle Southern, David Tanciar, Meridien Terrell, Stephen Vaught, Lamont Whitaker, Aubrey Young.

Additional Creative Team: Lighting Designer/Production Manager Russell A. Thompson, Original Scenic Design Robert Brill, Tour Scenic Design Robert Andrew Kovach, Costume Design Paul Tazewell, Wig And Hair Design Brandon T. Miller, Music Supervisor JP Meyer, Music Director/Keyboard 1 Erika R. Gamez, Orchestrations Bill Brendle, Orchestrations and Arrangements Ron Melrose, Synthesizer Programmer Randy Cohen, Sound Design David Temby, Projection Design Chris McCleary, Production Stage Manager Kimberly D’agnese, Resident Company Manager Marc Ciemiewicz, Tour Company Manager Timothe Bittle, Casting/Artistic Producer Brian J. Enzman, Executive Producer William T. Prather, Producer Apex Touring.


March 31, 2022 at 7:30pm

April 1, 2 2022 at 8:00pm

April 2, 2022 at 2:00pm

April 3, 2022 at 1:00pm and 6:30pm 

Tickets are on sale now!  Please contact the box office at  877.571.SHOW (7469) or visit TheHanoverTheatre.org for more information 

Presented at the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, 2 Southbridge St., Worcester. 

877-571-SHOW (7469) 


Worcester Center for Performing Arts is a registered not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, which owns and operates The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

"SUMMER - The Donna Summer Musical” grooved into the Hanover Theatre and left the audience clapping, cheering, dancing, singing along and more...but is it a good musical?

The answer is a resounding "absolutely" - It IS a VERY good musical. 

NOT perfect but it came very close thanks, mostly, to an extremely talented ensemble supported by a phenomenal multimedia backdrop which helped moved the story along seamlessly.

Featuring a book by Colman Domingo and Robert Cary, the show is directed by Lauren L. Sobon and features choreography by Natalie Caruncho based on the original choreography by Sergio Trujillo

There are a lot of themes showcased in the show, but one that elevates it is strength.

Donna Summer was a superstar, a strong performing legend, but this musical allows us to see a more vulnerable side to Summer who, in life, was a very private person. 

One personal struggle Summer had as a child while attending church is mentioned briefly but is almost never mentioned again.

Later, we see her achieving her massive success in a world where economic disparity between male and female artists was (and still is) vast, and this success came with significant sacrifices and cost.

The musical also recalls how, before Summer met her husband, Bruce Sudano (John Guaragna), Donna was in a personal downward spiral. Sudano came in at a pivotal moment as fame and fortune took its toll on Summer. Sudano helped Donna achieve a more stable balance between work and family.

The musical successfully celebrates Summer's life and accomplishments as a black woman, as an artist and as a person.

There are over 20 iconic songs in the retrospective of Summer’s life and career but, when you leave the Hanover, not only will you exit recalling Summer's musical legacy, you will exit having gotten to know a little more about Donna the person. 

The audience becomes immersed in the evolution of LaDonna Adrian Gaines as a human being and as an accomplished artist who grew well beyond Summer's "disco queen" image.

Three actresses play the role of musical icon Donna Summer at different points in her life as “Diva Donna” (Brittny Smith), “Disco Donna” (Charis Michelle Gullage) and “Duckling Donna” (Amahri Edwards-Jones).

When these performers sing separately they carry the material quite well. When the trio combine their voices, though, the blend is so magical it causes chills.

Toward the beginning of the show, a line comes which announces, "LaDonna Gaines was born in Boston" which elicited cheers from the local crowd.

Among the show's retrospective of Donna Summer hits, fans coming to the Hanover Theatre can expect to hear favorites such as “I Feel Love,” “Love to Love You Baby,” “White Boys,” “Heaven Knows,” “On the Radio,” “Bad Girls” and the iconic empowerment anthem “She Works Hard for the Money.

(PHOTO: The 2022 Touring Company of "SUMMER - The Donna Summer Musical" coming to the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. March 31 through April 3, 2022. Photo Courtesy of the Tour website)

Much to the credit of the showrunners responsible for the structure of this musical, they did not just try to cram every single Donna Summer song into this show and have it somehow make sense. 

There are a few Summer hits not included here (as examples, "The Wanderer," "State of Independence" and her cover of Barry Manilow's "Could It Be Magic" are not featured in the show).

Where the music did NOT seem to serve the retrospective came at dramatic moments where no music at all would have probably served the material better. 

Case in point: During a scene involving domestic violence, the song "(No More Tears) Enough is Enough" underscored the moment as police became involved. It made the moment almost look comical while clearly not the intent. A similar moment occurred when the song "Dim All the Lights" was used to underscore a significant death.

(PHOTO: The 2022 Touring Company of "SUMMER - The Donna Summer Musical" coming to the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. March 31 through April 3, 2022. Photo Courtesy of the Tour website)

These moments aside, there will be many in the audience who will, at several points, want to get up and dance during the show and, in fact, are encouraged to do so by the actresses at the very start. 

By the time the show's finale, "Last Dance," is reached, there will be absolutely no stopping anyone from clapping, cheering, singing along and more. 

Clearly an indication that Donna Summer was...and still is..."Hot Stuff."

Approximately 115 minutes with no intermission.

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)




"SUMMER delivers the seasonal sunshine with toe-tappingly familiar songs, stellar performances, shiny costumes and a reminder of the impact of its subject on the music industry at large." -  Entertainment Weekly

She was a girl from Boston with a voice from heaven who shot through the stars from gospel choir to dance floor diva. 

But what the world didn’t know was how Donna Summer risked it all to break through barriers, becoming the icon of an era and the inspiration for every music diva who followed. 

With a score featuring more than 20 of Summer’s classic hits, including “Love to Love You Baby,” “Bad Girls” and “Hot Stuff,” this electric experience is a moving tribute to the voice of a generation.

Contains flashing strobe lights and may not be suitable for children ages 12 and under. 


Please note, for the comfort and safety of all of our patrons, staff, volunteers and performers/artists, we respectfully require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative result for a COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of your visit to the theatre. Children under 12 are exempt, provided they are accompanied by an adult who is fully vaccinated. Information will be checked against a valid photo ID prior to entry and the wearing of CDC-approved masks is required while inside the theatre. Complete details can be found here:  https://thehanovertheatre.org/safetyprotocols