Edge, Reviews, Theater

‘The Mountaintop’ inspires with message to overcome

There are few American heroes more greatly revered than Martin Luther King, Jr., His non-violent crusade for the rights of his people earned him legendary status as an orator and an example of empathy and forgiveness of which to aspire.

But we often forget that the leaders who we elevate to mythical status were people just like us, with their own hidden quirks, habits and failings.

GableStage painted a far more intimate, complex portrait of the celebrated minister in their gripping production of “The Mountaintop.”

“The Mountaintop” was written by Katori Hall and opened in London in 2009, where it won the Olivier Award for Best New Play.

It premiered on Broadway in 2011, with Samuel L. Jackson making his Broadway debut in the lead role of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The show depicts the last night of the civil rights icon’s life in a suite at the Lorraine Motel, where he has an enlightening and challenging discussion with a maid who is more than she seems. GableStage’s production crackled with intensity from start to finish; an impressive achievement for a two person show performed in a single act.

Although the script itself is sometimes a bit heavy-handed in its delivery of the show’s core themes, the show’s performers made the material look top-notch.

C. Anthony Jackson was a first-class embodiment of Martin Luther King, Jr., from his speaking patterns to his physical appearance.

He accomplished the formidable task of humanizing the larger-than-life figure, bringing unexpected elements of playfulness and vulnerability to the role, while still endowing his more grandiose speeches with the appropriate sense of gravitas.

Any actress playing against a character as powerful as Martin Luther King, Jr., runs the risk of being overshadowed, but Karen Stephens was more than up to the challenge.

In her role as Camae, a motel maid who has more depth and mystery to her than she first appears, Stephens practically radiated dynamism and electrifying spirit.

She commanded the stage with her magnetic presence, most notably while giving her own rendition of an imagined speech by the Reverend.

The chemistry between Jackson and Stephen was nothing short of exhilarating, constantly turning on a dime from one extreme of emotion to another.

“The Mountaintop’s” technical elements were up to GablesStage’s usual standard of quality.

The motel room set was incredibly detailed, and subtle shifts in lighting were effectively utilized during the production to underline significant moments.

The most impressive isolated element, however, was the simulated rain and snow visible through the motel window, which added that extra touch of realism that distinguishes good productions from great ones.

One of the most affecting moments of the production comes near the play’s denouement, when Martin Luther King, Jr., completely drops his facade and confesses that he only ever wanted to be a simple minister, but was called against his will to the highest mountaintop.

It’s an admission of self-doubt and regret which we, as a society, rarely allow our heroes to display.

But, if anything, this humanity only makes his leadership even more inspiring.

GableStage’s production of “The Mountaintop” is a funny, touching portrayal of an ordinary man who became extraordinary, and a poignant reminder for the audience of the power of the human spirit to overcome.

 

“The Mountaintop”

Where: GableStage, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables

When: 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sundays, through April 13

Cost: Tickets range from $15 to $55.

For more information, call 305-445-1119 or visit gablestage.org.

 

April 9, 2014

Reporters

Madelyn Paquette


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Could the once forlorn University of Miami be closer than some think to extending that national-reco ...

A few media notes on a Thursday: • As has been the case most years, ABC has decided to televise the ...

Most of the University of Miami student body is on Summer break; but the Hurricanes football team is ...

University of Miami football great Cortez Kennedy, a Pro Football Hall of Famer remembered for his w ...

The Hurricanes are still alive in their quest to make it to the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament. ...

A new study reveals that mindfulness training, but not relaxation training, benefits college athlete ...

Frenk delivered his inaugural lecture Wednesday, officially joining the most prestigious group of Me ...

Victor Oquendo, BSC ’09, is following in his parents’ footsteps. ...

The Rosenstiel School’s final lecture of the 2017 Sea Secrets series focused on using science diplom ...

Researchers believe they have found a new way to monitor the intensity and location of hurricanes fr ...

Five members of the University of Maimi track and field team advanced on Day 1 of the NCAA East Prel ...

No. 40 Estela Perez-Somarriba took down No. 27 Arianne Hartono of Ole Miss, 6-4, 6-3, Thursday morni ...

Jonathan Keller and Amanda Gale of the University of Miami track and field program were named to the ...

The University of Miami's Week 3 game at in-state rival Florida State on Sept. 16 will be telev ...

Due to inclement weather, the ACC Championship has adjusted the scheduled for games and Miami will n ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.