The glittering grand piano sat atop dual white staircases, creating an illuminated walkway for the superstar that would waltz down the steps. A small orchestra to the left of the stage warmed its strings, and a disco ball began to lower overhead.
Every element of the stage setup seemed like it was an essential part of the show. However, as the night's guest of honor announced as she later took the stage, creating the glamour wasn't as easy as it looked.
"It isn't easy being a diva these days," Donna Summer told her laughing audience. "Outside, I may look like this, but inside is a different story."
Summer, 58, bent over like an old woman, holding her back and hobbling around stage with an imaginary cane.
Yet her powerful performance in Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort's Avalon Ballroom Tuesday night proved that the singer needs no aid to entertain.
Following a medley of her hits performed by her band, the disco diva opened with a bang, rising up through the piano and belting out "She Works Hard for the Money." The crowd roared its approval, apparently happy that Summer wasted no time getting to her hits.
Summer continued on to comment on the beauty of the landscape.
"I was standing at my window this morning, looking out at the falls, and it's breathtaking," she said. "You're blessed."
With her pipes sounding as good as they did 20 years ago and her energy just as strong, Summer's show was indeed a treat for fans. In addition to performing the hits she has become known for, including " No More Tears (Enough Is Enough,)" "Bad Girls" and "Hot Stuff," Summer also sang a number of covers. A rendition of the Beatles' "With a Little Help From My Friends" triggered an immediate crowd chorus, and the slow, beautiful "Smile" was sung with just a spotlight on Summer and a slight backing of strings.
One of the night's treats came when Summer showcased her vocal range on Sade's "Pearls."
Another concert highlight included Summer selecting three members of the audience to join her onstage. Little did they know they would become her backup singers for "On the Radio."
As Summer swayed and sang her upbeat classic, the three women stepped up to their mike and belted "Whoa oh-oh," just as the diva had ordered.
Tuesday night in the Avalon Ballroom at Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort.