Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor



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

This article shared 1195 times since Tue Feb 4, 2020
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 .

This article shared 1195 times since Tue Feb 4, 2020
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

Virtual OUTspoken storytelling event Feb. 2 2021-01-17
- The next virtual OUTspoken Storytelling Night will take place Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. The speakers will be as follows: —Donald Bell is a third-generation Chicagoan, South Sider and White Sox fan who is a retired ...

Gay News

'Dixie's Happy Hour' streaming Jan. 26-31 2021-01-15
- On the heels of Dixie's Tupperware Party and Dixie's: Never Wear a Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull (and 16 other things I learned while I was drinking last Thursday), drag personality Dixie Longate is ...

Gay News

Hell in a Handbag Productions to present Out, Darn Spot! 2021-01-15
--From a press release - CHICAGO (Jan. 15, 2021) — Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to present the campy comedyOut, Darn Spot!, written by and starring ensemble member Tyler Anthony Smith* and directed, filmed and edited by Stephanie Shaw. ...

Gay News

Artemisia Theatre announces entirely virtual 2021 season 2021-01-13
--From a press release - CHICAGO - In order to continue its strong feminist story-telling tradition, Artemisia Theatre announces an entirely virtual 2021 season. The new season includes two World Premiere theater productions and eight audio performances airing on its podcast ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Laverne Cox, lesbian coach, Jim Parsons, 'Brokeback,' theater items 2021-01-11
- Laverne Cox is teaming with Meryl Streep and Rashida Jones to executive-produce a new documentary exploring one of the most critical issues at the intersection of race, feminism, and power: the sex industry, noted. Sell/Buy/Date ...

Gay News

African American Arts Alliance, Black Ensemble to present MLK event Jan. 18 2021-01-08
- The African American Arts Alliance of Chicago and Black Ensemble Theater will present the 10th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration on Monday, Jan. 18, at 6 p.m. The online event will be free. This ...

Gay News

Rip Nelson Holiday Quarantine Special extended through Jan. 17 2021-01-06
--From a press release - CHICAGO (Jan. 4, 2021) — Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to announce one additional week of performances of its streaming holiday hit The Rip Nelson Holiday Quarantine Special, now playing through Jan. 17, 2021. ...

Gay News

Hell in a Handbag announces annual benefit, "The Morning After" 2020-12-23
- CHICAGO (Dec. 17, 2020) — Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to announce its annual benefit "The Morning After," featuring the streaming world premiere of the smash hit musical that started it all for them, ...

Gay News

PrideArts to screen one-night-only live virtual readings 2020-12-21
--From a press release - PrideArts series of one-night-only live virtual readings resumes with TWELFTH NIGHT on the Twelfth of January Peter Vamvakas to direct a cast of seven Click here for a Word doc version of this release CHICAGO — ...

Gay News

Bechdel Fest 8 to highlight femme, female-identifying, non-binary, trans, queer actors 2020-12-21
- Broken Nose Theatre (BNT) will present Bechdel Fest 8: Realign—the company’s annual festival of new short plays featuring an ensemble of femme, female-identifying, non-binary, trans and queer actors talking about things other than men. ...

Gay News

OUTSpoken: LGBTQ storytelling event Jan. 5 on Zoom 2020-12-16
- Another OUTspoken Storytelling Night will offer the perspective of four Chicagoans telling life stories from their LGBTQ+ viewpoint or that of their close friends and relatives, Tuesday, Jan. 5, starting at 7 p.m. on Zoom. The ...

Gay News

Pegasus holding Young Playwrights Festival Jan. 7-31 2020-12-10
- On Jan. 7-31, Pegasus Theatre Chicago is presenting the 34th Young Playwrights Festival (YPF), which selects winning high school-age scribes to apprentice with theater professionals to workshop and produce their ...

Gay News

THEATER About Face airing festival with Black LGBTQ+ artists 2020-12-04
- About Face Theatre is launching its 25th season with Kickback—an online festival of 10 newly commissioned short plays and performances by Black LGBTQ+ artists, inspired by the Rebuild Foundation's collections at the Stony Island Arts Bank. ...

Gay News

Black Ensemble Theater's 'Holiday' event Dec. 18-25 2020-12-03
- The Black Ensemble Theater is celebrating the 2020 holiday season with The Black Ensemble Virtual Holiday Extravaganza, written and directed by Producing Managing Director Daryl D. Brooks. Filmed from the performers' homes and the theater, the ...

Gay News

Billy Masters 2020-11-30
- "Will you issue pardons before leaving office? Will you be issuing a pardon for yourself?"—A reporter asked El Presidente this question after the traditional pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkeys. And by turkey, we don't mean anyone ...


Copyright © 2021 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      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

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.