By Dillon Thomas

(CBS4)– A musical showcasing the Queen of Disco’s life is scheduled to visit Denver at the end of the month. “Summer,” the Donna Summer Musical, stops at the Buell Theater Jan. 28 through Feb. 9 and features work by longtime Denver residents.

(credit: CBS)

Associate Costume Designer Sue Makkoo took CBS4’s Dillon Thomas behind the scenes during the show’s stop in Cleveland, Ohio. There, she showed how costume styles commonly associated with male roles were tailored to fit a woman’s body. The cast is predominantly made of women, including roles in which women play males.

“(The show) is really exciting, really energized,” Makkoo said. “It is complicated, and it moves quickly. And, it crosses decades.”

Makkoo raised her family in Denver before being selected to help create the hundreds of costumes and wigs featured in “Summer.”

(credit: Denver Center for the Performing Arts)

In order to capture Donna Summer’s style throughout her lifetime, especially during the Disco Decade, Makkoo said she reflected on her own memory of the Studio 54 era.

“I remember being in a club. I remember those moments,” Makkoo said. “It is really cool to recreate those images now.”

Makkoo said nailing the costume designs was important, especially since many in the audience lived the eras being recreated.

“There’s mink, and there’s boas, and there’s sequins. And, the shoes. There are so many beautiful shoes,” said Alex Hairston, who plays “Disco Donna” in the show.

(credit: Denver Center for the Performing Arts)

Hairston is one of three women who portray Summer in the show, with “Disco Donna” being the character who rose to stardom. “Duckling Donna” actress Olivia Hardy portrays Summer during adolescence. Lead actress Dan’Yelle Williamson serves as “Diva Donna,” showing how Summer matured and ended up in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.

“I love the costumes. They are my favorite part of the whole show,” Hardy told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.

“We see (Donna Summer’s character) grow through the clothes,” Makkoo said. “We see her in those 1970s jumpsuits. We see her in the fun-dangerous dress singing ‘Hot Stuff.’ Then, we see her in a more elegant look.”

(credit: Denver Center for the Performing Arts)

Makkoo said the cast and design team made sure the acting, story line and costumes all accurately followed Summer’s lifestyle in different times of her life; from adolescence, to a more sexual vibe, and ending with a woman who commonly dressed in suits and style.

“You can kind of see how she grew in (the show). And, I find that really exciting. It’s just another way to say, ‘Wow, she grew up,’” Makkoo said. “When (Williamson) walks out at the end of the show in the beautiful suit, you can tell, ‘Wow, she really found who she was.’”

Thomas tagged along with the cast of “Summer,” and Donna’s daughter Mimi, to visit the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. There, Mimi Summer donated two iconic dresses her mother wore during her rise to fame.

“Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” opens at the Buell Theatre Jan. 28 and runs through Feb. 9.

Dillon Thomas


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