Stagecraft Podcast: LaChanze on ‘Summer,’ Tony Boosts and Dream Roles

LaChanze has a favorite Donna Summer song — but you won’t hear it in “Summer,” the Broadway bio-musical for which the actress is currently nominated for a Tony in the title role.

The tune is “State of Independence,” and the actress tried hard to get it on the song list. “I fought!” she recalled on the latest episode of Stagecraft, Variety‘s theater podcast. She pestered director Des McAnuff and orchestrator Ron Melrose so much that eventually Melrose joked with her, “Put it in your club act!”

LaChanze said she responded, “You know, I just might do that!” (For the record, her favorite tune to sing in the show every night is “Friends Unknown.”)

The actress, performer and author has plenty of experience with the Tony Awards: She was nominated for her 1990 performance in “Once On This Island,” and in 2006 she won the trophy for leading actress in a musical for “The Color Purple.” That first nomination, she said, “immediately put me in a circle of women that I had been admiring for years. Patti LuPone. It was just amazing.” And then the win “put me in another circle of women — in another realm, the film and television realm. But at the bottom of that list!” she added with a laugh.

On the new episode of Stagecraft, LaChanze also revealed the moment she finds hardest to perform in the musical each night — it’s “one of the purest moments onstage for me,” she said. She also gave an update on her solo show and her upcoming biography, named some of her dream roles and explained the origin of her single name.

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