BROADWAY ENSEMBLISTS SHARE THEIR MEMORIES OF ERIC LAJUAN SUMMERS
“Eric was one of a kind. I will always remember his unique sense of humor and most of all his always loving energy. When my daughter, who was probably one and a half at the time, would visit Kinky Boots every weekend, Eric always made it a special point to interact with her and make her feel welcomed and cared for. He talked to my husband and I so lovingly about his large family, and he was so proud to be an uncle to multiple nieces and nephews, which made him a natural when it came to playing with my daughter. I remember thinking how amazing it would be to come from such a large family who loved and supported and helped each other the way his did. Then, of course, when he got sick, they all rushed to his side and he just knew how much love was always surrounding him. He was a bright light, a raw talent, and a force to be reckoned with. He will be sorely missed. “ - Blair Goldberg
“We met doing a production of Dreamgirls at Marriott Lincolnshire - Lorrell and Jimmy. One I remember one of the first times we were running “Ain’t No Party” and I decided to run my hand down his stomach with the “Don’t I give you good lovin’” and I legit stopped, lifted his shirt, and said, “Ummmmm, excuse you?!” because he’d always wear oversized shirts, and I didn’t know before that moment the rock hard ab-ness happening under there.
I also loved singing something different every night for “Lorrell Loves Jimmy” because he sang the hell out of everything every night, and he was blocked to be on his knees, so he just had to sit there and take whatever I gave him without reaction. There were a couple times when a random show got thrown in to my shared dressing room when he finally got off stage from that scene.
One of the first times he was in the hospital, I stopped by to visit him before leaving for Ain’t Too Proud in Berkeley. I was complaining about a last-minute audition that I didn’t really want to go to, ‘cause I just really felt like I wasn’t gonna book it (Zander, I didn’t), but the appointment came in 2 hours after I’d just shipped all my dance shoes and clothes to California so I was gonna have to buy a new pair of shoes and clothes just for this audition. He very quickly reminded me and pointed out that I at least had the option to audition, and I needed to remember to be grateful and just go in.
Jamal Story, Darius Crenshaw and I stopped by to visit Eric at around 7 pm a couple months ago. We got so caught up in catching up, we didn’t leave his apartment until 5 am. None of us had been paying attention to the time, and apparently we thought we were teenagers again.
I think Ain’t Too Proud may have been one of the last shows he was able to audition for. I used to FaceTime him all the time around intermission of the show and we’d just catch up and chat. I was able to give him and his brother a pair of comps to one of our previews - he hadn’t been feeling well all day, but he fought and came anyway. I hadn’t told anyone he was coming, figured I’d tell them after the show. Except he was sitting front row, center, with his leopard print surgical mask on. When Ephraim reached out to the woman next to Eric, he swatted her hand away to try to make Ephraim grab his hand instead. By intermission, a few people were yelling at me for not telling them he was gonna be there and FRONT ROW CENTER!
He was an absolute light, joy, and inspiration.” - Rashidra Scott