A play about Martin Luther King will be performed tonight at Wealthy Street Theater. Presented by Ebony Road Players, “The Mountaintop” unfolds as a fictional portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr.’s final night at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, a renowned venue with a history of hosting notable Black artists like Ray Charles, Lionel Hampton, Aretha Franklin, and Otis Redding.
King was staying in Memphis to advocate for the striking sanitation workers. His call for civil rights extended beyond the sanitation workers, leading a demonstration a week before his assassination, resulting in the tragic death of a reporter and property damage in downtown Memphis.
The title of the play, “The Mountaintop,” is inspired by the speech King had prepared.
On the night of April 3, King delivered his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, expressing the commitment to continue the struggle. His aspiration for the Poor People’s Campaign, advocating economic and human rights for diverse backgrounds, was cut short by his assassination on April 4, 1968 on the Lorraine Motel balcony.
Playwright Katori Hall, renowned for her work on the Tina Turner Musical, is also the creative force behind this production. Currently serving as a showrunner on Starz’s P-Valley, Hall’s roots in Memphis tie closely with the backdrop of both her TV show and the play, the city where the civil rights leader was assassinated in 1968.
“The Mountaintop” premiered in London in 2009, earning Hall the Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2010. It later graced Broadway in October 2011, receiving critical acclaim with a cast led by Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.
The Wealthy Street Theater is located at 1130 Wealthy St. SE, in Grand Rapids. Tickets are buy one, get one at $25. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the play starts at 7 p.m. For those interested in attending, tickets can be purchased here.