SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical

Begins Rehearsal

Full Cast Announced



Bellport, NY, June 1, 2023: SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical begins rehearsals and will run at The Gateway Playhouse from June 16 – July 16, 2023, to continue the 74th season.

SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical features a book by Colman Domingo, Robert Cary, and Des McAnuff and music and lyrics by Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder, Pete Bellotte, Paul Jabara, and others. It was originally directed by Des McAnuff and features more than 20 of Summer’s well-known hits (including “Love to Love You Baby,” “Hot Stuff,” “Bad Girls,” and “MacArthur Park”). This electric experience is a moving tribute to the voice of a generation.

Told through the dramatic lens of her final concert, SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical presents the complexities and conflicts the famed singer/songwriter faced in her meteoric rise and descent. It tells the story of the woman whose songs broke every record, whose story broke every barrier, and who became the icon of an era and the inspiration for every music diva who followed. 

The musical highlights Donna Summer at three stages of her life. Duckling Donna played by Grace Capeless is in her pre-teens, starting out in Boston; Disco Donna played by Afra Hines, is in her late teens and 20s, and has her initial success; Diva Donna played by Renee Marie Titus, is in her 50s and at the top of her career.

Renee Marie Titus returns to The Gateway after appearing in Head Over Heels, A Christmas Carol, and The Wedding Singer. She previously toured the U.S. with The Color Purple. Afra Hines appeared in the role of Disco Donna multiple times in the Broadway company of SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical. Previous Broadway credits include Funny Girl alongside Lea Michele, Hadestown, In the Heights, Shuffle Along, Ghost, and Motown. Grace Capeless appeared at a young age in the Broadway companies of The Lion King, Matilda, A Christmas Story, and Radio City Christmas Spectacular and appeared on screen in multiple projects including appearing as young Hillary in the recent remake of Beaches. 

Principal cast members also include John Rochette as Neil Bogart, Christian Brailsford as Andrew Gaines, and Carmine Mastrokostas as Bruce Sudano.

The remaining company, playing various roles, include Maggie Bergman, De’Ja-Simone Crumpton, Nichole Forde, Anthony Garcia, Haley Hannah, Gigi Lewis, Jessica Lorion, Michael Marrero, Melissa Mattos, Jade Milam, Victoria Price, Nia Smith, and Dan Teixeira.

The Gateway’s production is headed by an almost all-female creative team led by Jenny Laroche and Kyli Rae. SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical will be directed by Broadway veteran, Jenny Laroche. Jenny originated the role of Norman Brokaw in SUMMER on Broadway and became Associate Choreographer of the First National Tour. She is the Associate Director & Assistant Choreographer of New York, New York – Broadway nominated for 9 Tony Awards and Chita Rivera Awards recipient for Best Ensemble! Her favorite credits include: TV: Smash (recurring) produced by Stephen Spielberg, Annie: Live! and Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Film: Tick Tick Boom! and The Merry Widow (MetOpera principal). Broadway: SUMMER (OBC), Rockettes, Head Over Heels (OBC), Pal Joey, Fly, Paint Your Wagon (NYCC). Additional credits include MetGala, Tony Awards, SNL, Jimmy Fallon, Wendy Williams, Sherri, and Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris. Jenny was the Associate Director/Choreographer on Mariah Carey’s Christmas at Beacon Theatre. Upcoming credits include Associate Choreographer of Smash coming to Broadway.

The Associate Director and Choreographer will be Kyli Rae. Rae’s Broadway and First National Tour credits include Tony Award-winning Jersey Boys, A Bronx Tale directed by Robert DeNiro and Jerry Zaks, SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical, Rock of Ages, Mamma Mia!, Flashdance the Musical, Grease, and Fame. Clint Eastwood cast Kyli as the Lead Angel, singing “My Boyfriend’s Back”, in his major motion picture adaptation of Jersey Boys, for Warner Bros. Studios. She has had the pleasure of working with iconic artists such as Celine Dion, Debbie Allen, Nell Carter, Alan Menken, Chazz Palminteri, Jerry Orbach, and Carol Burnett. Kyli Rae now serves as the associate choreographer of the Norwegian Cruise Line production of SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical under the guidance of Des McAnuff and Sergio Trujillo and will recreate the original Broadway choreography for The Gateway stage.

The almost all-female creative team of SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical will also include an original prop design by Brittany Loesch, an original costume design by Janine Loesch, Hair and Make-up by Emma Beneck; as well as include Cass Fawcett as the Production Stage Manager and Rachel Colson Armitstead as the Casting Director. The creative team concludes with Lighting Design by Kim Hanson, Sound Design by Jonah Verdon, and Projection Design by William Milligan.

Tickets for SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical are on sale now and start at $55. Want to save money? The Gateway offers many options on how to save! We offer Season Passes with a discount of up to 35% off, Youth and Teen pricing on some performances, as well as, Student Rush tickets which can only be purchased one hour before show-time, at the door, and with a valid Student ID. Group Sale Discounts are also available for groups of 15 people or more. For more information, contact the Box Office at (631) 286-1133, or visit the website at TheGateway.org.


Renee Marie Titus

Afra Hines

Grace Capeless






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AAQ / Resource: Brian J. Mahoney

Landscape Architecture