Lee Summers

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Lee Summers
LeeSummers4.14.2017.jpg
Born
Leon Summers, Jr.

1958
EducationNew York University Tisch School of the Arts (MFA)
OccupationPerformer, Librettist, Composer and Producer
Known forOff-Broadway musical From My Hometown

Lee Summers (born 1958) is an American theatre, television and film actor, singer, librettist, composer, director and theatre producer best known for creating and producing Off-Broadway's From My Hometown.[1] As an actor, Summers was nominated for the 2018 Audelco Award for 'Best Featured Actor in a Musical,' for "On Kentucky Avenue" - which he also directed and won the 2018 Audelco Award for 'Best Director of a Musical.' Summers has appeared on Broadway[2] and in numerous TV/Film roles, such as Core FOI (Fruit of Islam) in Malcolm X, a neurosurgeon on Law & Order; a turn-of-the-century cook on Boardwalk Empire, and as a Police Sergeant, opposite Tom Selleck on Blue Bloods.[3]

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Summers' first professional job was performing on the Showboat at Opryland USA while enrolled at Tennessee State University. An opportunity to tour singing the role of "Porgy" in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess prompted Summers to leave TSU during his senior year. After the tour, Summers moved to New York (1980) where, on his first night in Manhattan, he'd meet choreographer Michael Peters (Dreamgirls, Beat It). After a couple of years performing in numerous Off and Off-Off Broadway shows, Summers made his Broadway debut in the original production of Dreamgirls.[4] Years later, Summers reprised the role he played in the Original Dreamgirls for the Dreamgirls 20th Anniversary Benefit Concert[5] with Lillias White, Billy Porter, Audra McDonald, Norm Lewis and Heather Headley. Later, at the invitation of Broadway vocal arranger Chapman Roberts (Five Guys Named Moe), Summers performed at Carnegie Hall.

In 1986, after a stint performing in Monte Carlo with Jenifer Lewis, Summers returned to work on a one-man show in Indiana, where when traveling one night he suffered a near-fatal car accident. On his journey to a full recovery, his voice as a stage writer emerged, leading to his creating and performing in what would become the Off-Broadway hit, From My Hometown.

Writing led to Summers joining the Dramatists Guild of America,[6] and his work or incarnations thereof, have been produced and presented On and Off-Broadway, at numerous regional theatres such as the Milwaukee Repertory, where Summers collaborated with Kevin Ramsey to premiere their original tap-dance musical, If These Shoes Could Talk,[7] which starred Harold Nicholas,[7] of the legendary Nicholas Brothers, in his farewell stage performance.

Other venues and regional theatres where Summers' works have been produced include The Arkansas Repertory Theatre,[8] The Ensemble Theatre, Karamu Theatre,[9] The Phoenix Theatre,[10] The Meadow Brook Theatre, The Madison Theatre at Molloy College,[11] Theaterworks in Palo Alto, California, The Triad Theatre, New World Stages, AMAS Musical Theatre, Crossroads Theatre,[12] RACCA's Seaport Salon, The Kirk Theatre, Gramercy Theatre,[13] Radio City Music Hall's[14] workshop spaces, The Kennedy Center[15] and many others.

Other notable projects in development include Summers as librettist, co-lyricist and co-composer (with Timothy Graphenreed) for Yo' Alice[16] (Adaptation of Alice in Wonderland) which was conceived by Maurice Hines. Summers also collaborated with Hines on an Ella Fitzgerald musical, Ella: First Lady of Song for which Summers is book writer. Ella: First Lady of Song premiered at New Jersey's Crossroads Theatre in 2004 and in 2014, was produced in Alexandria, VA starring Freda Payne (Hit record: Band of Gold) and most recently in Wilmington, Delaware 2018, directed by Maurice Hines.

Summers' funk musical, The Funkentine Rapture, was selected for the 2005 National Alliance for Musical Theatre[17] Festival (NAMT) starring Tony Award Winner Billy Porter and presented in workshop at Theatreworks (Silicon Valley), directed by Robert Kelly. The Funkentine Rapture was presented in concert at 54 Below in June, 2017, starring Tony Award Winners, James Monroe Iglehart and Lillias White.

Summers made his producing debut in 2003—partnering with Amas Musical theatre and Ben Blake for the developmental production of From My Hometown. The production transferred commercially to the Gramercy Theatre in 2004 with Summers as Lead Producer.

As a director, Summers won the 2018 Audelco Award for 'Best Director of a Musical' for "On Kentucky Avenue." Summers has worked in venues ranging from New York’s Urban Stages,[18] AMAS Musical Theatre, The John Houseman Theatre, New World Stages, The Triad Theatre, Flushing Town Hall, The Milwaukee Repertory Theater, The Cell Theatre, Harlem Repertory Theatre, The Pearl Theatre Company to name a few. Summers directed the World Premiere of "Acappella The Musical" for the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) garnering three "Excellence Awards" in 2015.

In 2016 Summers celebrated the 10th Anniversary of his Just A Piano Concert Series,[19] which has presented countless artists benefiting numerous charities, such as Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Actors Fund of America, MusiCares and others.

Summers studied Communications and Theatre at Tennessee State University and earned his Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Dramatic Writing from SUNY Empire State College. He has an MFA in musical theatre writing from New York University/Tisch School of the Arts.

Work[edit]

Librettist[edit]

Lyricist[edit]

  • 1993 If These Shoes Could Talk[7] (Co-lyricist)
  • 1998 From My Hometown[1] (Conceiver) (Co-lyricist) (Lyricist)
  • 1999 Yo Alice[20](Co-lyricist)
  • 2005 The Funkentine Rapture[21] (Lyricist)
  • 2010 Winds of Change (Co-lyricist) (Lyricist)
  • 2013 The System(Co-lyricist) (Lyricist)
  • 2016 Bayard The Musical (Lyricist)
  • 2018 Pangaea The Musical (Lyricist)

Composer[edit]

  • 1993 If These Shoes Could Talk(Co-Composer)
  • 1998 From My Hometown (Conceiver) (Co-Composer)
  • 1999 Yo Alice (Co-Composer)
  • 2005 The Funkentine Rapture'(Composer)[25]
  • 2010 Winds of Change (Composer)
  • 2013 The System(Composer)
  • 2016 Bayard The Musical (Composer)

Playwright[edit]

  • 2016 Poetics Justice(Author) (Published)
  • 2013 One Shot Deal(Author) (Published)

Producer[edit]

Television and film actor[edit]

  • 1992 Malcolm X[26]...Elijah Muhammad's FOI
  • 1994 Law and Order[27] (TV Series)- Coma (1994) ... Dr. David Monroe
  • 1996 Law and Order[28] (TV Series)- Causa Mortis (1996) ... Belmont Uniform Policeman
  • 1997 New York Undercover[29] (TV Series)- Fade Out (1997) ... Walter Stokes
  • 2003 The Presidents[30] (PBS VIdeo)Colin Powell / Secret Service Man
  • 2011 Boardwalk Empire[31] (TV Series) - Battle of the Century (2011) ... Otis
  • 2013 Blue Bloods[32] (TV Series) - The City That Never Sleeps (2013) ... Sgt. Stiles

Stage actor and singer[edit]

  • 1981 Dreamgirls[4] (Original Broadway Production)
  • 2001 Dreamgirls 20th Anniversary[4](Broadway Event)
  • 2001 Little Ham[33](Off-Broadway)
  • 2010 Winds of Change[34](Cabaret - Bistro Award Winner)

Awards and competitions[edit]

Summers' works have received critical acclaim along with such honors as The New Professional Theatre's "Our Voices Award" (1996) eight AUDELCO Award nominations including “Best Musical” (2003), selection and presentation in the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's Festival of New Musicals[35](2005), TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, California (2005), a developmental workshop at Radio City Musical Hall (1999), developmental support from the Shubert Organization (2003), a [[Gilman & Gonzalez-Falla[36]]] Theatre Foundation Commendation for his body of work in American Musical Theater (2003), New York's Bistro Award[37](2010) and four Michigan 2012 Wilde Award[38] nominations and a recent win for Best Ensemble (2012).

2010 Bistro Award winner 'Outstanding Achievement, Entertainer'

2018 Audelco Award Nomination and Winner for 'Best Director of a Musical,' for "On Kentucky Avenue"

2018 Audelco Award Nomination for 'Best Featured Actor in a Musical,' for "On Kentucky Avenue"

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Jones, Ken. "Harlem on Their Minds: New Musical, From My Hometown, Makes NYC Bow June 10". Playbill. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  2. ^ Internet Broadway Database. "LeeSummers". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  3. ^ "'Blue Bloods' The City That Never Sleeps (TV Episode 2013)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c "Lee Summers". Internet Broadway Data Base.
  5. ^ Dreamgirls. "BroadwayDataBase". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  6. ^ "Membership Profile - Lee Summers". Dramatists Guild of America. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d "UniversityofWisconsin-MilwaukeeLibraries". Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  8. ^ "Shoes Tap in Arkansas". Playbill. March 26, 1996. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
  9. ^ Simakis, Andrea. "Karamu Theatre brings the sounds of Detroit, Memphis and Philly to Cleveland with 'My Hometown': Fall theater preview 2013". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  10. ^ "PhoenixTheatreHistory". PhoenixTheatre.org. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  11. ^ "Madison Theatre at Molloy College Presents… From My Hometown". Molloy College. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
  12. ^ a b "History". Crossroads Theatre Company. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
  13. ^ Jones, Ken. "Dreams of Apollo Theatre Glory Fuel From My Hometown, New R&B Musical Starting July 12". Playbill. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  14. ^ Hofler, Bob. "Holiday season alive with staged readings, workshops". Variety. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  15. ^ Cary, Emily. "Freda Payne as Ella Fitzgerald headlines Page-to-Stage". The Washington Times. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  16. ^ Hofler, Bob. "Holiday season alive with staged readings, workshops". Variety. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
  17. ^ NAMT. "Funkentine Rapture". Playbill.com. Playbillonline. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  18. ^ Thomas, Peter. "Musical Legends Tributes to Pearl Bailey, Kaye Ballard, Marlene Dietrich to Play Urban Stages". Playbill. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  19. ^ "Just A Piano". Broadway World.com. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  20. ^ a b Hofler, Bob. "Holiday season alive with staged readings, workshops". Variety. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  21. ^ a b "KaramuTheatreseries2007-08". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  22. ^ Cite error: The named reference delawaretheatre.org/ella was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  23. ^ Cite error: The named reference tisch.nyu.edu/grad-musical-theatre-writing/news/new-musical-pangaea-by-gmtwp-alums-presented-at-mmc was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  24. ^ Cite error: The named reference metrostage.org/ella,-first-lady-of-song.html#.XCuz7M9Kho5 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  25. ^ Funkentine, Rapture. "Funkentine Rapture". 54Below.com.
  26. ^ "MalcolmX". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  27. ^ "LawandOrder". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  28. ^ "LawandOrder". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  29. ^ "NewYorkUndercover". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  30. ^ "The Presidents r". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  31. ^ "Boardwalk Empire r". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  32. ^ "Blue Bloods r". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  33. ^ "Theater Review – A Charming Cad Gambles on Love and Doing Right". The New York Times. September 27, 2002.
  34. ^ "Lee Summers' Winds of Change Continues At The Triad 8/10". BroadwayWorld. August 10, 2009.
  35. ^ "Billy Porter Stars in Funkentine Rapture at NAMT, Sept 25-26". Playbill. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  36. ^ Gilman, Gonzalez. "Playbill". Playbill.com. Playbill. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  37. ^ "2010 Bistro Award". bistroawards.com. Archived from the original on December 5, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  38. ^ "Updated: Nominations: The 2012 Wilde Awards". EncoreMichigan.com. Retrieved December 28, 2013.