‘The Mountaintop’ shows another side of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. | SummitDaily.com

‘The Mountaintop’ shows another side of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Summit Daily staff report

"Magical, surprisingly funny, full of humanity," said Christopher Alleman, Lake Dillon Theatre Company producing artistic director, about the substance of the upcoming production "The Mountaintop." "And we feel it is the most exciting production of our 2014 season."

The theater continues its 20th anniversary season with the regional premiere of Katori Hall's "The Mountaintop," a two-person play that imagines the last night of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life.

Exhausted from delivering a powerful speech, King is cooling down alone in his Memphis, Tennessee, hotel room when an unexpected visit from an unknown maid compels him to confront his own humanity and the fate of our nation. The visitor pushes King to confront his own doubts and haunting premonitions.

"Without giving too much away, the play is a supernatural imagining of what might have happened between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a hotel maid in Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel the night before his assassination," said Kim Staunton, the actress who plays Camae, King's surprise guest.

“Her vision, consciousness and sense of history have allowed her to write a piece that dares to create a human unveiling of an iconic man behind a legacy.”

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"'The Mountaintop' is one of the most exciting titles being produced by professional regional theaters this year," Alleman said. "We are thrilled to present it to Summit County."

"The play speaks for itself," said Harvy Blanks, who returns to the Lake Dillon Theatre in the role of King after having previously performed in the LDTC's 2011 production of "Driving Miss Daisy."

"The fact that the Lake Dillon Theatre is producing ('The Mountaintop') speaks to the creative tenacity of performing artistic director Christopher Alleman," he said. "The Lake Dillon Theatre Company may be a small theater, but its artistic vision is ubiquitous."

NEW VOICE FOR AMERICAN STAGE

"The Mountaintop" premiered in 2009 in London to critical acclaim, eventually winning the 2010 Olivier Award for "Best New Play," marking the first time in history a black woman won the prestigious award. "The Mountaintop" continued with a successful Broadway run in 2011, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.

"'The Mountaintop' marks Katori Hall's local premiere as a playwright," Alleman said. "Hall is one of the nation's most inspiring new voices in American theater."

"I'm impressed by this new, young African-American playwright," Staunton said. "Her vision, consciousness and sense of history have allowed her to write a piece that dares to create a human unveiling of an iconic man behind a legacy."

DIFFERENT KIND OF KING

While Americans have a concept of King, his legacy and his life, "The Mountaintop" offers some insight into his complexity as a human being.

"The play portrays King's ideals of hope and change, but it also shows the man as human and flawed," Alleman said. "In this wonderful fantasy, he must confront his past, the future for America and, most importantly, his inevitable death."

"I think the play is attempting to make Dr. King more accessible to those who have elevated him to sainthood, forgetting that he was just a man," said Blanks of the iconic real-to-life role he plays. "Certainly a very special and extraordinary man, but a man never the less."

"The Mountaintop" is the eighth production of the Lake Dillon Theatre Company's 20th anniversary season, featuring nine productions that celebrate journeys of self-discovery and growth amid a changing American landscape.

"'The Mountaintop" is perfect for our 20th anniversary season because it celebrates the life of an American hero," Alleman said. "The play is beautifully written, directed and acted, and audiences will connect with the history of it, as well as the imagination behind it."

"Audiences can expect to look at history, compare it to where we are as a society today and then, hopefully, reconsider the human beings we are," Staunton said. "I think they will be surprised by a more radical and private Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. behind closed doors as imagined by the playwright and directed by Charles Weldon."

"This play is a journey into the heart of a most spiritual man like Dr. King," Blanks said. "It will not take audiences to some somber, reverential interlude, where all things King are observed from bowed head and bended knee. So audiences can arrest any notion that they are coming to church. Buckle up!"

If you go

What: “The Mountaintop,” part of the 2014 Lake Dillon Theater Company season

When: Opening night is Friday, Oct. 10, with performances on select Tuesdays through Sundays until Sunday, Oct. 26

Where: Lake Dillon Theatre, 122 Lake Dillon Drive, Dillon

Cost: Tickets start at $32 for adults, $22 for students and $13 for children

More information: Visit http://www.lakedillontheatre.org