Meet The Donna’s Behind Broadway’s Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

November 22, 2021

Meet The Donna’s Behind Broadway’s Summer: The Donna Summer Musical


In less than 24 hours Summer: The Donna Summer Musical will bring the “Hot Stuff” to The Stanley Theatre. The late, multiple Grammy winner Donna Summer will be played in three parts by Brittny Smith as Diva Donna, Charis Gullage as Disco Donna, and Amahri Edwards-Jones as Duckling Donna.

Broadway Utica caught up with the Donnas to uncover the women that bring this energetic Broadway hit to life.

Amahri Edward-Jones as Ducking Donna:

A native of Virginia, Amahri Edward-Jones graduated from The Governor’s School for the Arts in Norfolk, VA, and went on to star in Virginia Musical Theatre’s Freaky Friday. Her career would continue to thrive as she landed roles in Mamma Mia in Chicago, and Virginia Stage Company’s Matilda.

“My first acting teacher was a black woman named Ms. Sharon Cook. I walked into her class unsure of what to expect, and she blew me away. She remains my biggest inspiration and my biggest advocate to this day. I’m here because of her.”

Together with the cast, Jones will perform in 42 theatre venues across the country, including Thousand Oaks, CA, Kalamazoo, MI, Philadelphia, and Knoxville, TN. But her favorite spot remains in Baltimore, MD.

“I have a special connection with Baltimore due to several of my friends and family who live there. Northern VA holds a strong second as my favorite place to visit.”

A passionate tap dancer, Jones spends her free time connecting with family and friends to keep her grounded.

“This is my first touring debut. It’s been a wonderful journey. I have to give thanks to God, my lovely parents, family, and friends for their unconditional support.”

Her favorite song to perform: “Love To Love You Baby.”

“This was the first song that introduced me to Summer, so there’s something about being on stage when this is belted out. “Hot Stuff” is close to my heart as well.”

Charis Michelle Gullage as Disco Donna:

Donna Summer is said to be responsible for inspiring countless artists, including Beyonce – an ironic twist for Charis Gullage who performed with Beyonce at the Superbowl XLVII halftime show.

Born in New Orleans, LA, Gullage was raised around music. Her father was a bassist who frequently played Summer’s music when growing up. Bonding over their love of musical appreciation and artistry, Gullage and her father still call each other to discuss bass lines in songs.

Summer:The Donna Summer Musical holds a score of Summer’s classic hits including “Love to Love You Baby,” “Bad Girls” and “Hot Stuff.” Gullage credits her schooling at New Orleans Centre for Creative Arts and her training with Broadway Arts Community NYC and LA for being able to bring this electric tribute to fans across the country.

“Donna used music as a universal language to love everyone,” Gullage said. “The fact that she’s also bridging the gap between theater and music is really great, too, because those two worlds don’t always collide. She was really on the forefront for bringing them together and showing they’re not so different because it’s all performance.”

While this is Gullage’s first national tour, she’s no stranger to the stage. Her past performances include Linda in Holiday Inn, Jane in A Bronx Tale, Sarah in Ragtime, and Frenchy in Grease.

“Being able to be here, and perform as Donna Summer is a blessing, but a huge surprise as well. I haven’t gotten a chance to sit back and be like, ‘This is happening, what you’ve dreamed of since you were little, is happening right out of the pandemic.’”

When not performing as Disco Donna, Gullage finds joy in juggling, jumping rope, the spoken word, and African Dance.

“Every single day in rehearsal I’m bracing myself for the audience because they’re going to know all these songs. I’m an emotional person, and I’m ready to cry hearing people singing back to me because I love that.”

Her favorite song to perform: “McArthur Park.”

“First and foremost, this song has beautiful imagery. But there’s something about performing this song. I begin singing solo and are then joined by the other Donnas towards the end. It’s wonderful to sing with these women and come together in the show.”

Brittny Smith as Diva Donna:

Belting out Summer’s impressive notes is no easy task. But for Houston, Texas native Brittny Smith, it’s a dream.

A graduate of Texas Southern University and Southern University in Baton Rouge New Orleans, Smith’s professional career includes roles on BET, Kraft, and Stomp The Yard 2, a record label contract with Musicworld Ent/Matthew Knowles, and musical theater performances in The Color Purple, Chicago, The Marvelous Wonderettes, as well as an national/international tour with Step Afrika and Dreamgirls.

Performing as Diva Donna in 42 venues this season is a welcomed retreat for Smith who missed traveling during the pandemic.

“All together, I have toured 30 countries and all 50 states.”

Smith continues to have strong connections to Austin, San Antonio and Dallas when home. Here she finds solitude in working on her fitness, creating youth mentorship programs, cooking, and diving into her South African Zulu dance and stepping studies.

“I love to cook and love my fitness journey. I also have a huge heart for youth. I started an art company geared towards young artists and creatives of color.”

Outside of Broadway, Smith has been featured in the first stepping exhibit in the world for the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Her work in this venue led to a performance at The White House.

“My favorite part of working on this show is that it’s interactive. It is about the fan experience, the glamour, the love, and the legacy that is Donna Summer.”

Her favorite song to perform: “She Works Hard for The Money.”

“This song is so empowering. To learn why she made this song created an even stronger connection for me. It’s an empowerment anthem and I’m excited to bring that to the audience.”


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