Lee Summers' career has been diverse, spanning across acting, singing, directing, playwriting, and teaching. As a musical theatre performer, Summers made his Broadway debut in the Tony and Grammy Award-winning, original production of 'Dreamgirls.’ He shared the stage with talented individuals like Loretta Devine, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Ben Harney, and others. Summers later reprised his role in the 2001 Actors Fund of America's 'Dreamgirls' 20th Anniversary Concert,' where he had the honor of performing alongside esteemed Broadway notables such as Audra McDonald, Billy Porter, Heather Headley, and more.
Summers' journey into the performing arts began with early university acting training at HBCU Tennessee State University, a theatre department boasting Oprah Winfrey as one of its notable alumni. During his time there, he had the opportunity to take on lead and supporting roles in numerous classic and contemporary plays.
Throughout his career, Summers has performed in roles for daytime and primetime TV, including Blue Bloods, Boardwalk Empire, New York Undercover, and Law and Order. He has also appeared in films such as Malcolm X, directed by Spike Lee. Additionally, Summers has been featured in numerous Off-Broadway productions, including Little Ham and On Kentucky Avenue, for which he was nominated for the 2018 AUDELCO award for "Best Supporting Actor." He has also showcased his talent with the Negro Ensemble Company, The Actors Studio, and at Yale's Eugene O'Neill Festival. In 2010, he was awarded a New York "Bistro" Award for his performance in his one-man show, ‘Winds of Change.’ Moreover, he has toured the US and Europe singing in shows, such as a concert version of ‘Porgy and Bess’ and has even graced the stage of Carnegie Hall.
As a stage director, Summers is a two-time AUDELCO Award winner for "Best Director of a Musical" and a Broadway World winner for "Best Director of a Musical" for his direction of ‘Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical’ at the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival. Throughout his career, he has directed for the stage in New York and at regional theaters, including the Milwaukee Repertory, Urban Stages, The Cell Theatre, New World Stages, Aaron Davis Hall, and Flushing Town Hall. Recently, Summers returned for a second year as a guest director at Berklee College, NY. He has also directed new musicals for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) and the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF).
As a librettist/lyricist/composer, Summers has created/co-created several musicals, including serving as the conceiver/co-creator and lead producer of ‘From My Hometown,’ which ran Off-Broadway for two consecutive years, starting at the Kirk Theatre and then transferring to the Gramercy Theatre. ‘From My Hometown’ has seen over 10 regional productions and will soon become part of the catalog of timeless musicals at Broadway Licensing. Summers also served as the librettist for ‘Ella, First Lady of Song,’ which he also directed in 2022, and it won the AUDELCO award for "Best Musical" (with Summers winning best direction). ‘Ella, First Lady of Song,’ is scheduled to run at the Meadow Brook Theatre in 2024.
Summers first began working at New York University's Steinhardt Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions in 2020 as a guest stage director. However, his work was interrupted by the pandemic. Nonetheless, this setback led to his involvement as the director/creator of a virtual musical entitled 'Storm,' in which a cast of Steinhardt students celebrated the music of his late collaborator, Timothy Graphenreed, who was a dance arranger for Broadway's 'The Wiz.' The virtual musical was produced in 2021.
Since joining the faculty as an adjunct in 2021, he has taught 'Acting for Singers' at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Additionally, he has also co-taught classes in 'Music Scene Study.' Summers has also served as adjunct faculty for Motlow College, Lehman College, and NYU Tisch's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, and as a guest artist lecturer at Tennessee State University, John Jay College, Marymount College, and others. He also served as adjunct faculty for SUNY Empire State College as a prior-learning essay evaluator.
Summers is an alumnus of Tennessee State University; he holds a BA from SUNY Empire State College and an MFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. He is a member of AEA, SAG/AFTRA, SDC, and DG. For more information, please visit www.Leesummersshows.com.