It is good to humanize our icons. To show our heroes as mere mortals is important so we can understand their struggles and appreciate their achievements even more. That’s what the play The Mountaintop does in a glorious and powerful way, playing at the Garry Marshall Theatre through Sunday, March 10.
Humanity and humor come through in playwright Katori Hall’s fictional retelling of how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spent his last night on earth before his tragic assassination. It is surprising to say this uplifting show has lighter moments, along with examining Dr. King’s Civil Right’s legacy, in addition to his hopes and fears. That is thanks to the skillful direction of Gregg T. Daniel and the two stars of The Mountaintop.
Gilbert Glenn Brown gives a potent performance as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Brown’s intensity is mesmerizing, as is his fragility.
Equally impressive is the sweetly fierce Carolyn Ratteray as Camae, a formidable match for Dr. King. She is a sassy cherub-faced maid who isn’t shy about mentioning his flaws and eventually reveals this is no ordinary night.
After Dr. King delivers his “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech he is tired, and through the well-written give-and-take funny, flirtatious, and dramatic banter with the all-knowing maid Camae, we’re given an insight to the man behind the icon. And there is a big reveal (which this reviewer will not spoil by exposing) halfway through the show that has a spiritual “God works in mysterious ways” element which creates an extraordinary must-see show.
The motel room set creates the mood of a stormy night, and credit goes to Alex M. Calle for scenic design; JM Montecalvo, lighting design; plus stage manager Giselle N. Vega and the rest of the outstanding behind the scenes team.
“The Mountaintop” plays through Sunday, March 10 at Garry Marshall Theatre located at 4252 W Riverside Dr. in Burbank. For more information and to purchase tickets call (818) 955-8101 or visit GarryMarshallTheatre.org.