At the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre 242 West 45th Street. The play opens October 13, 2011 thru January 15, 2012.
The play was first performed in London at a 65 seat Theatre 503 and the then went to play at the West End, Trafalgar Studios. It won an Olivier Award in 2010 for best new play. This was the first time an African American playwright had received the Olivier Award in it's 34 year history.
It was written by Katori Hall, who was born in Memphis, Tennessee. She was inspired by a family story about her mother. The play is directed by Kenny Leon who was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Director for "Fences" in 2010.
Samuel L. Jackson has appeared in over 100 films and was nominated for an Academy Award for "Pulp Fiction". He was an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement. Mr Jackson was an usher at Kings' funeral in Atlanta.
Angela Bassett was nominated for an Academy Award for "What's Love Got To Do With It" and won a Golden Globe Award for that role.
The Mountaintop is about what happened the night before Dr. King was killed on April 3, 1968. He was returning to his motel room 306 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis after giving renowned "I've been on a mountaintop" speech.
"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. (applause) and I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promise land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promise land. (applause) And so I'm happy, tonight I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the lord." " Wikipedia"
The curtain is a photo of the Lorraine Motel.
Dr King (Samuel L. Jackson) is returning to his motel room in the pouring rain. He tells an aid to get him a pack of Pall Malls. Pacing back forth in his room he is trying to put together a new speech he plans to give.
Calling room service for a cup of coffee he finds out there is no more room service. However a few minutes later Camae (Angela Bassett) a maid from the motel comes up with coffee compliments of the people in the restaurant.
Martin flirts with her. She shares her Pall Mall's and alcohol with him. Pouring it into his coffee.
Every time the lighting goes off Martin jumps, fearing it might me a gunshot. Camae lays her hands on his face trying to soothe him. She addresses him by the name Michael. He asks her how does she knows his birth name. Screaming has she been sent there to set him up like so many other times before.
Up to this point it's believable about what might have transpired the night before he died. But we find out that Camae is an angel coming to get Dr. King, of course he doesn't want to go. Who's to take over for him, he has so much to do. She says "Jesse" will take over. He wants to talk to God. She calls her telling the person on the phone to have her call on her cell phone. Martin gets to talk to God but she won't listen. It was funny, but does not add credibility to the story.
Dr. King asks Camae to show him what happens in the future. His visions are always cloudy. The stage pulls back and you see visions of that happens in the future. Camae speech is like speed dial it goes so rapid. She leave Dr. King as he recites about the Promise Land and now that the baton has dropped will someone out there pick it up. When he finishes his speech he say's can I get an Amen. The audience responds with an Amen. Camae come back dressed like an angel and escorts Dr. King out.
Samuel is especially good when he quotes Dr Kings speeches. When he does the speech at the end about the Promise Land he brought tears to my eyes. He was so convincing he was Dr. King. For his first time on Broadway he did a great job.
Angela is spunky as the Maid/Angel with her sassy mouth. Her moves and gesture add to the character. She awesome in the role.
The set is not fancy but it's just a motel and come across as such. The fun part is the pouring rain outside. When the door is opened you see the balcony and the pouring rain. The thunder and snow storm also add to the set. David Gallo is the Set and Projection Designer.
Review by Rozanna Radakovich.
Photos by Annazor