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The Mountaintop

by

Katori Hall

October 31 - November 23, 2013

Gala Opening: Thurs., Oct. 31, 7pm

 

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now.

 

 

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Katori Hall


Katori Hall's Olivier Award-winning drama, The Mountaintop is a gripping reimagining of events the night before the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After delivering one of his most memorable speeches, an exhausted Dr. King retires to his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis while a storm rages outside. When a mysterious young woman arrives, King is forced to confront his destiny and legacy. Ms. Hall takes you into the remarkable realm of a remarkable life and time.The Mountaintop is directed by FUSION co-founder Laurie Thomas (Humble Boy, Time Stands Still, First Love, Sarah Ruhl's eurydice and Private Lives).

Other Desert Venues!!

FUSION Theatre Company continues to grow! We're thrilled to announce performances in Albuquerque at our home for the past eleven years,The Cell, as well as at the fabulous Simms Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Albuquerque Academy; in Santa Fe at the Lensic Performing Arts Center (where FUSION enjoyed a terrifically auspicious inaugural season last year!) and now, for the first time, in Las Cruces at the historic Rio Grande Theatre downtown. FUSION will present The Mountaintop:

Thursday, Oct. 31, The Cell, ABQ, 8PM GALA OPENING SOLD OUT!
Friday, Nov. 1, The Cell, ABQ, 6PM SOLD OUT!
Saturday, Nov. 2, The Cell, ABQ, 2PM (matinee) SOLD OUT!
Saturday, Nov. 2, The Cell, ABQ, 8PM SOLD OUT!
Sunday, Nov. 3, The Cell, ABQ, 6PM SOLD OUT!
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Wednesday, Nov. 6, The Cell, ABQ, 8PM
Thursday, Nov. 7, The Cell, ABQ, 8PM
Friday, Nov. 8, Simms Center for the Performing Arts, ABQ, 8PM
Saturday, Nov. 9, Simms Center for the Performing Arts, ABQ, 2PM
Saturday, Nov. 9, Simms Center for the Performing Arts, ABQ, 8PM
NOTE: Special student pricing at Simms! Only $10!
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Friday, Nov. 15, The Lensic Performing Arts Center, Santa Fe, 8PM
Saturday, Nov. 16, The Lensic Performing Arts Center, Santa Fe, 2PM (matinee)
Saturday, Nov. 16, The Lensic Performing Arts Center, Santa Fe, 8PM

Special Venue: FUSION is pleased to bring this outstanding production
to the historic El Morro Theatre with special pricing!
Saturday, Nov. 23, El Morro Theater, Gallup, 7PM
Sunday, Nov. 24, El Morro Theater, Gallup, 2PM (matinee)
General Admission: $35, Seniors: $25, Students $10

 

 

For tickets and information call 766-9412 or click here:

 

  • Free parking is plentiful in our lot just north of the theatre. The Cell is located at 700 1st St. N.W., just west of Broadway and south of Lomas
  • Parking at Simms Center is on the campus of Albuquerque Academy, immediately adjacent to the theater
  • Parking in Santa Fe is available at a number of inexpensive public lots in the immediate vicinity of the Lensic.
  • Parking in Gallup is available proximate to the theater, which is located at 207 W. Coal Ave., Gallup, NM.

Review, Albuquerque Journal, by Barry Gaines 11/8/13:

" The FUSION Theatre Company is staging a compelling and intriguing play that imaginatively envisions the last night on earth of civil rights patriarch Martin Luther King, Jr. The Mountaintop is set in room 306 of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on the 3rd of April in that terrible year of 1968. Written by Memphis native Katori Hall—who wasn’t born until thirteen years after King’s assassination—the 2009 play was premiered and honored in England before it came to this country.

The FUSION production imports two fine actors, Jacob Browne and Tai Verley, and is attentively directed by Fusion co-founder Laurie Thomas. Performed without intermission, The Mountaintop provides a memorable theatrical experience.

We first meet Dr. King as he returns to his shabby motel room after a speech in support of the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike. He is bone weary—salesman tired—as he slips his shoes off and loosens his tie. He craves a cigarette despite his recurrent coughs. His feet smell (“I got marching feet and I ain’t even marched yet!”) and his wife Corrie has forgotten to pack his toothbrush. The claps of thunder from the storm outside frighten him and he cowers behind the bed. Thus is the American icon humanized.

Planning to work on yet another speech/sermon, he cajoles the front desk to send him a cup of coffee. The coffee is delivered by a uniformed maid named Carrie Mae (that she shortened to Camae). Camae is a sassy young black woman, all lip and hip. She provides the cigarettes King desires and perhaps even more. There is sexual tension in the room as the two humorously discuss political and cultural issues when they aren’t flirting and/or cussing.

This naturalistic beginning morphs into something else. Without giving away too much, Camae is there to oversee King’s violent transition from this world to the next.

Scenic designer Richard Hogle provides a suitably scruffy motel room, although the irregular angles of the back wall interfere with later video projections. Myers Godwin’s lighting design cues shifting moods.

Tai Verley endows Camae with vitality and energy. As the complexity of her character emerges, Verley remains in full command of her role. Her face is ever expressive, and she is ingratiating without being cloying.

Jacob Browne has the more difficult job of portraying Martin Luther King, Jr., a figure so well known to so many. He does an excellent job—without direct imitation. Browne is comfortable speaking King’s famous words as well as presenting his less familiar foibles.

Neither hagiography nor exposé, The Mountaintop suggests that MLK may achieve more through martyrdom than marches."


Review, Pasatiempo, by James M. Keller, 11/22/13:

"Albuquerque’s FUSION Theatre Company has had its ups and downs in several recent run-outs to the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe, but it was in fine form when it presented The Mountaintop, a two-person drama by Katori Hall. Unveiled in 2009 and programmed frequently since then, the work has met with both acclaim and consternation. The consternation comes partly from the treatment of the subject. The work’s single extended act imagines Martin Luther King Jr. unwinding in his room at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis on the evening before his assassination, just after delivering his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech. One might call it a sacred moment in American history, yet Hall presents King not as an unblemished icon but rather as an all-too-human character — an inspirational and politically savvy figure, but also a man with smelly feet who swigs booze, drags on Pall Malls, and flirts with the motel’s maid while he speaks affectionately by phone with his wife. “I’m just a man,” he laments at one point, echoing the flood of protesters carrying “I Am a Man” signs at the sanitation workers’ strike that had brought him to Memphis.

“I ain’t no ordinary maid,” the housekeeper advises. She is, in fact, an angel whom God (Ms. God, by the way) has chosen to accompany King to heaven. It’s her first assignment, and she blunders by spilling the beans to her charge. This leads to King’s arguing over his fate with God, reached in heaven (where, in 1968, they already have cell phones); and this is where the play spins off track, crossing into cutesiness and then concluding with a way-too-long recitation of bullet points from the future decades of civil rights. Notwithstanding these errors of tone, there is much to admire in the play. At its best, it toys with the idea of confronting King with his own honesty, with whether he really meant it when he declared to the crowd that it didn’t matter to him any more if he lived, because God had allowed him to go to the mountaintop and look out over the promised land.

Director Laurie Thomas delivered a forthright, uncluttered production that unrolled over an hour and 40 minutes in a single set, the minimally furnished motel room. Warm applause was earned by the two actors, both of whom are new to FUSION’s roster. Jacob Browne wisely eschewed trying to imitate King’s appearance or diction, instead forging a compelling independent interpretation that reached to heights of rhetoric and earnestness as well as to borderline smarminess without ever losing an authentic center. A tall actor, he filled the space monumentally. This conveniently reinforced the stature of his personality while freeing him to explore more minute details of characterization, and it added physical drama at several moments when jittery King hit the floor in response to ominous claps of thunder. Tai Verley, as the maid/angel Camae, was at once charming and tough. She parried with Browne in a way that might by turns suggest an enticing girlfriend or a reassuring mother while allowing her character’s self-doubt to help seduce the audience. Both actors showed admirable breadth in their characterizations, and one hopes that they will return for future FUSION productions."


Review, Washington Post, by Peter Marks:

"He smokes. He cusses. He drinks. He comes on to a woman who isn’t his wife. But he also speaks in the inspirational voice of a Gandhi-esque leader who forced America to search its conscience over racial inequality and poverty."


Review, The Independent (UK), by Nicola Christie:

"It is a testament to the pull of The Mountaintop that it's a thrill to be stuck in that room with Camae and King, witness to the wild imaginings that Hall had when she conjured this relationship set during King's final night on earth. It is a relationship that is breathtaking, hilarious and heart-stopping in its exchanges and in its speedy ability to reveal character and pull the audience into the ring. One minute the Pastor and his new friend are beating each other up with rounds of oratory; the next, they're trying out how to look sexy while smoking."


Review, Newsday, by Linda Winer:

"The prospect of a Broadway play about Martin Luther King threatens to be as earnest as an after-school special or as nobly stone-faced as the new MLK monument in Washington. So it's a relief, not to mention a thrill, to report that Katori Hall's The Mountaintop crackles with theatricality and a humanity more moving than sainthood."



The Mountaintop Cast


Jacob Browne

Jacob Browne* (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) is a theater, television, and film actor who received his BFA in Theatre from California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA. He starred as "The Preacher" in the acclaimed short film Migration of Clouds, which was an official selection at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. His notable roles onstage include "King Edward" in Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II and "Stark" in Carrots for Hare, both at the Walt Disney Modular Theatre in Los Angeles. Jacob relocated from L.A. to New Mexico in 2008 in order to develop his acting career in the growing New Mexico film industry. Since moving to Albuquerque, he has been featured in various films including Jackie (where he worked with Academy Award-winner Holly Hunter), Men Who Stare at Goats, and the upcoming features Fort Bliss (opposite Michelle Monaghan), and Things People Do. Television credits include In Plain Sight and the upcoming NBC medical drama Night Shift. Jacob is delighted to be working with FUSION.


Tai Verley

Tai Verley* (Camae) is excited to make her FUSION and New Mexico debut! Originally from from New York City, she has performed the roles of "Calpurnia" in To Kill a Mockingbird (Bristol Valley Theatre), "The Nurse" in Romeo and Juliet (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival), "Malvolio" in Twelfth Night, "Hermione" in The Winter's Tale (Accidental Shakespeare Company), "Titania & Hippolyta" in A Midsummer Night's Dream (151 Bank St. Theatre), "Fefu" in Fefu and Her Friends (Center for Performance Research) and "Saint Monica" in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Sanguine Theatre Company). Tai is an M.F.A. Graduate of The New School for Drama, a proud member of SAG-AFTRA and now a happy member of Actors' Equity Association.

* member, Actors' Equity Association, the union of actors and stage managers in the United States

 

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director, Laurie Thomas