Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe presents ‘The Mountaintop’
Powerful show by Katori Hall offers fictional account of the final night of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life
SARASOTA, FL – On the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe offers a look at the man behind the public persona in a show written by Memphis native Katori Hall, titled The Mountaintop. This is the first production by WBTT to address the life and legacy of the civil rights icon.
In The Mountaintop, after giving a prophetic speech during the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. returns to his hotel. He orders coffee from room service that is delivered by a mysterious woman with a much greater mission. With vivid theatrical imagination and powerful, often humorous dialogue, Hall fictionalizes the last night of Dr. King’s life and gives us a window into his hopes, vulnerabilities, and fears.
The title of the play comes from King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech on April 3, 1968, where he seemed to envision his own death. Hall’s two-character drama explores the possibilities of King’s final night, in a fictional but intriguing way that has garnered praise both in England and here at home, where Samuel L. Jackson made his Broadway debut as King, starring with Angela Bassett.
Performing in WBTT’s production are Abdul-Khaliq “A.K.” Murtadha and Emerald Rose Sullivan. Understudies are Brian L. Boyd and Ariel Blue. Returning to Sarasota to direct the production is Chuck Smith, who is a Resident Director at WBTT; he has previously directed Knock Me A Kiss, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and The Piano Lesson. Smith is Resident Director at the Goodman Theatre, where he has directed over 20 productions and serves on the theatre’s Board of Trustees.
Production stage manager is Juanita Munford. Production manager is James E. Dodge II. Scenic design by Michael Newton-Brown. Costume design by Adrienne Pitts and Patricia Gregory. Lighting designer is Michael Pasquini. Fight coordinator is Dan Granke. Property master is Annette Breazeale. Technical director is Shane Streight.
“For all of us here at WBTT, the commemoration of Dr. King’s legacy is a significant occasion and the memory of the day he was assassinated was particularly painful,” said WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs. “The mission of our organization is to promote and celebrate the African-American experience and, certainly, there are few figures who have left such an indelible imprint on the course of American history than Dr. King. We hope this production will serve to properly honor his contributions and courage, particularly as our nation continues to struggle with racial inequality and discord.”
The show, which is being supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), runs January 10-February 18, 2018. Performances take place at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, with 2 p.m. matinees on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets: $42/adults, $20/students and active military (with valid ID). Call the Box Office (941-366-1505) or go to westcoastblacktheatre.org.
As part of the NEA grant, there will be two free hearing-assisted performances: a special performance for children/youth on Saturday, January 20 at 2 p.m. and then an all-ages performance on Wednesday, January 24 at 2 p.m. These shows will feature American Sign Language (ASL) Interpretation by ASL interpreters. To reserve seats for these shows, please call the Box Office or email [email protected].
1. Abdul-Khaliq ‘A.K.’ Murtadha stars as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s production of ‘The Mountaintop’
2. Emerald Rose Sullivan plays the role of Camae in WBTT’s production of ‘The Mountaintop’
3. Abdul-Khaliq ‘A.K.’ Murtadha and Emerald Rose Sullivan star in WBTT’s production of ‘The Mountaintop’
Photos by Vutti Photography
About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe:
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. is the only professional black theater company on Florida’s West Coast. The mission is to produce professional theatre that promotes and celebrates the African-American experience, to attract diverse audiences, to support and develop African-American artists, and to build the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information on WBTT, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call (941) 366-1505.