Cadence Theatre retells the last day of MLK Jr. in new production
Tracing the last night of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life is no easy undertaking, and performing it on stage doesn’t make it easier.
But this Thursday, February 18th, Cadence Theatre in Partnership with Virginia Rep plans to do just that when they present Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop staring Katrinah Carol Lewis and Jerold Solomon, directed by Laine Satterfield.
The Mountaintop is a partly fictional drama of the last day of MLK Jr.’s life. Setting of the play is entirely in Dr. Kings room, 303 at the Lorraine Motel, on the eve of his assassination on April 4th 1968.
Jerold Solomon, who plays Dr. King talked about preparing for the role and having the chance to humanize King saying “we’re getting a Martin Luther King that people didn’t get a chance to see.”
“I’m not trying to give an impersonation I’m trying to kind of get in the head of the man in this play and present a very casual tone,” Solomon said.
The actor was taken aback by the recognition of how old King was when he died, making parallels to his own life in terms of being around the same age and having a family to try and take care of.
The play gets to know Dr. King as more of a human being than just the person we saw on TV or have read about in history classes.
It focuses on a man who is dealing with the pressure of a whole race on top of him and knowing that he’s just one man. Katrinah Lewis who is playing opposite Solomon will be portraying the maid, Camae, who Dr. King speaks with throughout the play.
Director Laine Satterfield said she wanted to keep the audience guessing the best she could considering the obvious ending of the production.
“They should expect to see some surprises,” she said. “Some spiritual banter, and a reckoning with mortality.” No light topic for a play about a man about to face his demise.
Mortality seems to be the keystone to this story as both Solomon and Satterfield acknowledged that the audience will get to see a side of Dr. King that only people closes to him have seen.
The story focuses on a god like figure who doesn’t know that he’s going to die the very next day and still feels he has so much to accomplish.
Every gender and race can identify with this story because Dr. King is such an important figure not only in African American history but for United States history in general. Humanizing King creates a character some of us might have trouble accepting, but Satterfield’s production aims to teach as well as entertain.
Neither Satterfield or Solomon wanted to give too much away about the play but both confessed that the audience will find it greatly enjoyable.
Mountaintop runs February 20 – March 12 at At Theatre Gym at Virginia Rep Center.
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