When one disco’s doors close, another disco’s doors open. That seemed to be the message from a dual alert from the producers of “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical,” which simultaneously announced a Dec. 30 closing notice for the show on Broadway and the Sept. 30, 2019 beginning of a national tour.
When the Des McAnuff-directed “Summer” shuts its doors in the dead of winter at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, it will have played 289 regular performances on the back of 27 previews since the start of performances March 28. A cast album was released in July.
For the latest week for which grosses were posted by Playbill, ending Nov. 25, the show was playing at 43 percent of capacity — the lowest attendance rate among existing Broadway productions, falling just slightly beneath the 46 percent for “Head Over Heels,” which posted its own closing notice Tuesday.
The production, which sported more than 20 Summer hits as part of its biographical rendering of the late star, received two Tony nominations, for actresses LaChanze and Ariana DeBose, both of whom portrayed the title figure, albeit as “Diva Donna” and “Disco Donna,” respectively.
Reviews were mixed-to-negative. Variety heaped praise upon LaChanze, a previous Tony winner for “The Color Purple,” but cited “a thin biographical book that hardly does justice to Summer’s life or her music.” Deadline’s review said the production was “as unimaginative as its title,” and the New York Times called it “a blight” on the bio-jukebox musical genre. Entertainment Weekly and Newsday came through with upbeat notices, however.
No specific dates were announced for the North American tour beyond the late September launch, but cities promised as stops include Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Nashville, West Palm Beach and Rochester.