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There's a Gender-Bending Donna Summer Broadway Musical in the Works

donna summer

Disco and Broadway seem to go hand in hand—from Hugh Jackman's star turn as Peter Allen in The Boy from Oz to the Abba-honoring Mamma Mia, the theater is the perfect stage for disco's outsize glamor. Now it seems that disco's queen may be getting the Gloria Estefan treatment with a biographical musical dedicated to the late, great Donna Summer and her timeless music. 

According to the New York Post, Tony-winning director Des McAnuff staged a workshop last week of the new musical, tentatively titled The Donna Summer Project. An unnamed source I'm hoping turns out to be Giorgio Moroder tells the Post's Michael Riedel that the workshop was "masterly," "swift, energetic" and "sharp." And it also featured women playing some of the men in Summer's life.

“The [cross-dressing] is interesting,” says the source. “I’m not sure what it’s all about, other than a commentary, I guess, on all those female impersonators who do Donna Summer routines at Boots & Saddle,” the famed Greenwich Village drag bar.

Three actresses portrayed Summer during three stages of her life—before, during and after her unparalleled rule of disco. Ariana DeBose, who will appear in A Bronx Tale: The Musical later this season, was reportedly "terrific" as the superstar-era Summer.

A born-again Summer infamously incited the ire of the gay community thanks to a rumor she had referred to AIDS as God's punishment for homosexuality—a rumor she frequently and litigiously denied. 

Summer died in 2012 at the age of 63 after being diagnosed with lung cancer she claims was a result of inhaling toxic fumes and dust from the 9/11 attacks. Her music, however, lives on.

Summer's mid-to-late-70s collaborations with Italian record producer Giorgio Moroder lay the foundation for EDM, and have been sampled countless times, while Summer herself inspired nearly every pop diva that came in her wake, from Madonna to Beyoncé.

Meanwhile, her duet with Barbra Streisand "Enough Is Enough (No More Tears)" is one of the gayest things to come out of the '70s. And that's saying a lot.

The musical workshop included some of Summer's most memorable hits, such as "Love to Love You Baby," "I Feel Love," "Bad Girls," "Hot Stuff," "Last Dance," and the single greatest ode to soggy pastries,"McArthur Park."

“Those fucking songs are so catchy,” another source told the Post. “I can’t get that cake song out of my head, even though the lyrics are ridiculous and it goes on forever.”

Well, that's because back in disco's heyday, they knew to allow enough time for the cocaine to hit—and sometimes that took 17 minutes. Sigh. They just don't leave cakes like that out in the rain anymore.   

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