BWW Interview: BEAUTIFUL's Danielle Summons Reflects on Family, Carol King, and Coming Home
When BEAUTIFUL opens at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) Tuesday, it will be a homecoming for Danielle Summons. That's because Summons, who plays one of The Shirrelles, as well as Janelle Woods in the show, is from Raleigh. And for Summons, returning to the DPAC stage, is a dream come true.
Woods performed at DPAC last year in the touring production of LES MISERABLES as the understudy for Eponine, but says this time, it feels different.
"I feel like I've arrived a little bit," she says. "To be able to come back and be performing at this magnitude in front of people that always supported me my entire life is magical."
BEAUTIFUL is the bio-musical of singer/songwriter Carol King. The show is packed with King's timeless hits including (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, You've Got a Friend, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, and Summons' song, One Fine Day.
Summons says telling the story of a music legend who is still alive, just makes her want to work harder for both the people who first listened to King's hits on the radio to a new generation of fans discovering her music for the first time.
"To have someone who actually lived in that era, and then to have someone younger than me who knows [this music], just proves to you how timeless her music is, how innovative she was."
"It breaks race barriers, it breaks classism barriers," she adds. "It's just really brilliant."
Summons says King's road to success wasn't an easy one, and that is something she as a performer can relate to. After graduating from college and moving to Harlem, Summons says she worked a number of odd jobs from dog walking, to dressing up as Princess Tiana at birthday parties, to spraying shoes at Lucky Strike, just to scrape by before booking the national tour of LES MISERABLES.
"The rejection started to make me doubt myself and wonder if I was good enough," she says. "But there was something in me that couldn't give up."
"And I really am thankful for the support that I had back home in Raleigh, that would continue to confirm that what God has for me is for me and nobody can Take That away."
And it's her family, especially her mom, who Summons says is her best friend and number one, that she's most excited to share this experience with.
"It's Mother's Day, and there's no better way to celebrate her," she says. "I just can't even explain how much money, time, ego, pride, how much she put aside for me to make sure that I could do this, to live out my dream."
"So, there's no better gift to give her back than to have her sit down in the audience and see me come out and do what we've been working so hard for," she adds. "She's so much a part of this dream."
BEAUTIFUL runs May 7th - 12th at the Durham Performing Arts Center. For more information visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/beautiful-1.