Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-02-19
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



NUNN ON ONE MUSICALS Dan'yelle Williamson works hard for the money in 'Summer'
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Hailing from Boston, Donna Summer went from the church choir to disco dance floor over the years. She broke through music boundaries with hits like "Love to Love You Baby," "Dim All the Lights" and "I Feel Love."

Summer announced to Windy City Times in 2009 that she would never retire, then sadly passed away from lung cancer in 2012. In 2013, she was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and, in 2018, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical was created to continue her legacy.

Performer Dan'yelle Williamson plays Summer in her later years in the stage show, as well as Summer's mother Mary Gaines during her early years. Williamson brings experience from other musicals to the table such as Mamma Mia!, Memphis, The Lion King and Wicked.

Windy City Times: Where are you from?

Dan'yelle Williamson: I'm from Tampa, Florida, originally. I attended Howard W. Blake High School of the Arts.

WCT: Did you always want to be in musicals?

DW: No. [Laughs] I didn't know I wanted to do musicals until much later. I knew I wanted to sing, because I had always been a singer. I grew up in the church and sang in the choir. I wanted to keep singing and musicals found me. It's cool when your purpose finds you.

When I went to college, then I decided to do musicals.

WCT: Did you like Donna Summer songs in the past?

DW: I actually didn't listen to her music at all growing up. My parents were more into Parliament, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. We listened to soul and funk.

I wasn't familiar with her life either, so I learned a lot at the beginning of this process. Some cast members in the show have been following her forever.

WCT: Do you people say you look like her?

DW: Yes. People do say that a lot!

WCT: How deep does the storyline go into her struggles?

DW: They touch on some challenging topics in the show. Overall, the show focuses on the highlights of her life. Some of the topics are brief and I wish that they went a little deeper.

I want a deeper understanding of her as a full woman, mother, sister and wife. She was so any things. She wasn't just the disco queen, but the show is very fast, so we are in and out.

WCT: Why is your character described as the "Diva Donna?"

DW: There are three different Donnas. Each Donna represents a stage in her life. Olivia Elease Hardy is the "Duckling Donna" that is Donna in her younger years when she sings in church. Alex Hairston is "Disco Donna" and goes into her teen years. My character represents Donna Summer in her later years. She is already established as a huge megastar. With my character they introduce her journey as a mother and wife, while being in the music industry.

WCT: So she wasn't a diva who demands things in her dressing room?

DW: No. I never met Donna, but her husband Bruce Sudano said she was very loving, kind and giving. She wanted her children to know she was their mother first and not some big star.

WCT: So the family is very involved with this production?

DW: Yes. Bruce came to a few of the rehearsals. He was very close to the project. He had a lot to say in regards to his wife and her journey.

WCT: When I interviewed Donna in the past, she spoke of wanting to make a musical about her life called Ordinary Girl. Was that part of this production?

DW: Yes. That was the book she wrote, so they pulled things from the book to put it in the show.

WCT: She told me she wanted to try opera.

DW: She did? Well, she does have a very versatile voice and it was something no one had heard before.

WCT: Do you have a favorite song of Summer?

DW: I liked "Hot Stuff" and "Bad Girls" for a while, but lately I like "She Works Hard for the Money." I have had my own challenges with this tour, so that song is really resonating with me right now.

WCT: What does the Summer show have for gay fans?

DW: As her character, I do address the controversial situation that happened where she called out gay fans. That is something I wish we elaborated more on in the show. It felt like it was put in there because it happened, then we move on to the next thing.

I do believe the music will have everyone on their feet. This show speaks to everyone and anyone. We have all had challenges in our careers and this is a very relatable show in that way. Last night, people were dancing in the aisles for "Last Dance."

WCT: You play Mary Gaines in the show?

DW: Yes, I play Donna's mother as well so I have a very intricate role. I play the narrator, Donna Summer and her mom.

WCT: Are you changing clothes backstage all the time?

DW: I am doing costume changes every five seconds. If I am offstage, I am changing into another outfit, then running to the other side of the stage to enter for a scene.

WCT: What changed from the original production for the tour?

DW: As opposed to the original production, I know all the props and set pieces for our show are being manually operated by cast members. Our ensemble does so much for this show. They play men. They play women. They work so hard and don't get enough recognition.

WCT: You performed in Wicked here in Chicago?

DW: I did. It was my first professional job after college.

WCT: Were you in the Wicked cast with Telly Leung or Brian Justin Crum?

DW: Telly came in after I left, but I was in the group with Brian. I booked The Lion King tour, so I left in 2008.

WCT: Is there anything you want to accomplish after the tour?

DW: I want to shift into TV and film after this. It's something that I've been actively working towards for a while now. I am hoping, with the platform of this show, that the opportunity will come to fruition this year.

Summer: The Donna Summer Musical feels the love at the James M. Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St., Feb. 12-23. Tickets and information can be found at .

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Titus Andronicus 2020-02-24 - Playwright: William Shakespeare At: Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. Tickets: . Price: $35. Runs through: Mar 14 Director Ian ...

Gay News

Cantonese opera program March 17 2020-02-23 - "Si-fu: An Evening of Cantonese Opera" will make its Midwest debut at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts Performance Hall, ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Kill Move Paradise 2020-02-23 - By: James Ijames At: TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Ave. Tickets: 773-281-8463 or; $42-$57. Runs through: April 5 There's a lot ...

Gay News

'Judy & Liza' tribute March 5-April 5 2020-02-19 - The tribute show "Judy & Liza—Once In A Lifetime: The London Palladium Concert" will be presented at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. ...

Gay News

'...Love Is Queer to Stay' throughout Feb. 2020-02-19 - The Laughing Stock Theatre production The Masquerade; Or, Love Is Queer to Stay presents a queer spin on classical tropes, and will run ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The Boys in the Band 2020-02-18 - Playwright: Mart Crowley At: Windy City Playhouse, 3014 W. Irving Park Rd. Tickets: Price: $75-95. Runs through: April 19 In ...

Gay News

OPERA REVIEW The Queen of Spades 2020-02-18 - Score: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky; Libretto: Modest Tchaikovsky; after Alexander Pushkin. At: Lyric Opera of Chicago, 20 N. Wacker Dr. Tickets: 312-827-5600 or ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Roan @ The Gates 2020-02-18 - Playwright: Christina Telesca Gorman At: American Blues Theater at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. Tickets: $19-$39. Runs through: Feb. 29 ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Emma 2020-02-18 - Playwright: Paul Gordon ( book, music & lyrics ) At: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier. Tickets: 312-595-5600;; $35-$90. Runs through: March 15 ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Lipstick Lobotomy 2020-02-18 - Playwright: Krista Knight At: Trap Door Theater, 1655 W. Cortland Ave. Tickets: $20-$25; Runs through: March 21 Home, goes the adage, ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.