The night after his I've Been to the Mountaintop speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sits in Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel. He has just yelled to his friend to bring him back a pack of Pal Mall's from the store. It's pouring rain with lightning and thunder outside. He’s coughing as his voice has gotten hoarse from all of his speeches. He sits on the pale pink bedspread, pulls his yellow legal pad over to him, and realizes he's got a long night ahead of him.
Calling room service for some coffee, a housekeeper brings it to his door. He invites this woman to stay and share a smoke with him, and she agrees. Soon, we find she’s not just a simple motel employee and there's much more meaning behind her visit.
American Players Theatre Brings Us Back
In American Players Theatre’s production of The Mountaintop, we’re brought back to the last night of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and think about what has actually changed since then.
As we watch this night unfold, this reviewer began to feel like The Mountaintop is a cross between The Green Mile, Hamilton, and a previous show seen at American Players Theatre, Man of Destiny (which you can read our review here). We see the similarities with a mysterious figure, the main character running out of time, and a prominent historical figure visited by an unknown lady in this show.
Set only in the motel room, our two characters chat, theorize, pillow fight, and even flirt through the night but with us in the audience wondering, who is she? Why is she here? Why is it taking Dr. King’s friend so long to come back with a pack of cigarettes?
This motel employee named Carrie Mae (shortened to Camae) must be here for a higher purpose for Dr. King. The two actors, Gavin Lawrence and Sola Thompson, as King and Camae, dance around each other until it is revealed this is the last night before Dr. King’s assassination. Suddenly, he must come to terms with what will happen when he’s gone.
The Mountaintop is a what if play imagining the last night of Martin Luther King's life. It unpacks King's beliefs, fears, flaws, and what life is like for others such as Camae. The show brings it home by connecting King’s legacy with life today after his assassination.
The Mountaintop is a poignant and timeless reminder of Dr. King's vision for what America could look like. For those looking for a lighthearted show that doesn’t tie in with the issues prevailing today, it might be best to sit this one out. It would, however, be a good fit for those who like plays dealing with history and social justice and end with a call to action.
Gavin Lawrence as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sola Thompson as Camae
Director - Ron OJ Parson
Voice & Text Coach - Jacqueline Springfield
Costume Design - Samantha C. Jones
Scenic, Lighting & Projection Design - Jason Fassl
Sound Design & Original Music - Andre Pluess
Media Montage Creator - Mike Tutaj
Consultant - Martine Kei Green-Rogers
Stage Manager - David Hartig
Now through June 19th
Tuesdays-Sundays at various times
American Players Theatre
5950 Golf Course Road
Spring Green, WI 53588
Photos courtesy of Liz Lauren & Hannah Jo Anderson
About the Author: Alexis Bugajski
Alexis is a theater reviewer, travel bug, media specialist, and burger & beer enthusiast. During the day she works in the advertising business as a senior communications designer. When night falls, or when she can escape to New York, she’s hitting the theaters to see as many shows as she can. And whenever she’s not at her desk or in the audience, she’s out seeking the best burger and beer offerings in Chicago.
Editor's Note: Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Alexis Bugajski