LaChaze brings her semi-autobiographical cabaret act to The City. (Courtesy photo)

Tony winner LaChanze is ‘Feeling Good’

Broadway star makes SF Bay Area Cabaret debut

When the national tour of “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” lands in The City next month, the show will go on without its Tony-nominated star. Instead, LaChanze will be back on Broadway as the Ghost of Christmas Present in a new adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” that also stars Campbell Scott and Andrea Martin.

However, before that production opens, the Tony winner will make good on her postponed San Francisco debut with Bay Area Cabaret at the Venetian Room in a semi-autobiographical concert this Sunday, which also features an opening performance by Lili Gibson.

Her name means “the charmed one” in Creole and she’ll concede it’s a fair appellation. “Good and bad, though — charms can have malevolent intent,” she laughs, “sometimes just to teach you a lesson.”

The Florida native, whose birth name is Rhonda LaChanze Sapp, made her Broadway debut in the short-lived 1986 revue “Uptown…It’s Hot!” with Maurice Hines. She later was an understudy and ensemble member in the revival of “Dreamgirls.”

She rebranded herself as LaChanze and made a splash in “Once on This Island“ in 1990, receiving her first Tony nomination. Her second nomination and the award came in 2006 with “The Color Purple,” the musical adaptation of the novel by Alice Walker and film starring Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey.

Other major credits include a revival of “Company” and the original productions of “Ragtime” and “If/Then.”

“The Color Purple” was revived in 2015 with Jennifer Hudson and another Tony-winning Celie in Cynthia Erivo. Like a proud parent, the star of the firstborn production displays a little favoritism.

“It just felt like a revival within 10 years was just really too soon,” she says, diplomatically. “I was happy that the story had another life and I enjoyed the performances. I wasn’t too crazy about the minimalism. It’s hard to not compare it to the production that we did.”

Actual parenting kept her from the revival of “Once on This Island.”

“I was working on bringing ‘Summer’ in. The one night that I was able to go to a performance there was a storm and I lost power in my house. My daughter was in the house by herself, so I had to bail on the show.”

Her daughter, Celia Rose Gooding, is also a performer, currently making her Broadway debut in “Jagged Little Pill,” based on the Alanis Morissette album.

Mother and daughter open their shows within weeks and blocks of each other.

IF YOU GO

LaChanze: Feeling Good

Presented by Bay Area Cabaret

Where: Venetian Room, Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason St., S.F.

When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10

Tickets: $55 to $65

Contact: www.cityboxoffice.com

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