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Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

The Mountaintop
People's Light
Review by Rebecca Rendell | Season Schedule

Also see Cameron's recent review of Grounded and Rebecca's review of Rizzo

Patrese D. McClain and Bowman Wright
Photo by Mark Garvin
The Mountaintop is a story about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s last night on earth. Dr. King is settling into his hotel room for an evening of work when housekeeper Camae stops by to deliver coffee, share a cigarette, and turn his world upside-down. Playwright Katori Hall's work has a clear African-American voice, infused with spirituality and magic realism. Hall offers the audience a rare glimpse of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a flawed human being, driven by great purpose but frustrated with his own limitations. His is the story of the American civil rights movement in all its great accomplishments and devastating failures. Director Steve H. Broadnax III's production is genuinely inspiring. It is a powerful journey that will surprise you, break your heart, and give you the courage to rise up again.

Bowman Wright gives an epic performance as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., conjuring the iconic civil rights leader's larger than life persona while embracing his all too human nature. Tired, frustrated, sick, hard working, brilliant and hopeful, this Dr. King is as approachable as he is awe inspiring. Patrese D. McClain is excellent as the excitable and enigmatic Camae. I do not want to give anything away by saying too much about her performance, but McClain had me transfixed from the moment she walked onto the stage until the house lights went dark.

The third star of the show may be Tony Cisek's deceptively simple set design. At first it looks like nothing more than a realistic approximation of a rundown motel room, but Cisek manipulates our perspective and utilizes Joshua L. Schulman's lighting design to create a space that transforms from cramped to terrifying and defies our expectations.

Broadnax's production of The Mountaintop is a potent brew of strong storytelling, compelling characters, and historical insight. It is also a timely commentary on the current state of racial justice in the United States.

The Mountaintop runs through October 30th, 2016, on the Steinbright Stage at People's Light, 39 Conestoga Road in Malvern, PA. For tickets and information, call the box office at 610-644-3500 or visit

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Bowman Wright*
Camae: Patrese D. McClain*

Production Team
Director: Stave H. Broadnax III
Director of Production: Charles T. Brastow*
Set Designer: Tony Cisek
Costume Designer: Marla Jurglanis
Lighting Designer: Joshua L. Schulman
Sound Designer: Justin Ellington
Projection Designer: Katherine Freer
Dramaturg: Gina Pisasale
Production Stage Manager: Deborah Teller*
Line Producer: Abigail Adams

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