Spotlight: “The Mountaintop” at the Majestic Theater; Peter & Jeremy at the Iron Horse

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Published: 1/18/2019 9:01:32 AM

“The Mountaintop” at the Majestic Theater

The day before he was assassinated in April 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was leading a rally for striking black sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. He famously spoke about the death threats he’d been receiving and seemed to imply he knew he might be killed — but that he wasn’t afraid to die.

“Because I've been to the mountaintop … And I’ve looked over,” the civil rights giant said. “And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”

Katori Hall’s “The Mountaintop,” now playing through Feb. 10 at West Springfield’s Majestic Theater, uses the shorthand title of that speech for a play that imagines King’s last night on earth, after he returns to the Lorraine Motel — the now-infamous motor lodge where he would be gunned down the next morning — following his speech.

Tired and alone, King (Jamil A.C. Mangan) calls room service; a pretty and somewhat mysterious maid, Camae (Lynnette R. Freeman), brings him coffee. After some initial flirtation from King, which Camae shrugs off, the two begin a more intense conversation about King’s fears of death, the future of the civil rights movement, King’s ethics, even his speaking style. They forge a connection before Camae reveals why she’s really come to the motel room, which takes the play in a dramatically new direction.

Hall, who was born in Memphis, has said she wrote the play in part to present the married King as a flesh-and-blood person with flaws — such as his infidelities with other women — not just a heroic figure. She also wanted to honor her mother, who was a young girl in Memphis when King gave his last speech; she had wanted to hear him but was denied permission by her mother, Hall’s grandmother, because of her fears of violence.

“The Mountaintop” made its debut in Great Britain in 2009, when Hall was just 28, receiving rave reviews and winning an Olivier Award. The play opened on Broadway in 2011 with Samuel L. Jackson as King and Angela Bassett as Camae.

Performances at the Majestic Theater, 131 Elm St. in West Springfield, take place Wednesday to Sunday through Feb. 10. For ticket prices,  stage times and other information, visit majestictheater.com or call (413) 747-7797.

 

Peter & Jeremy (and Gordon & Chad)

In 1964, pretty much everything the Beatles touched turned to gold, including a chart-topping song, “A World Without Love,” that Paul McCartney wrote for the British pop duo Peter & Gordon. The Peter in question was Peter Asher, the brother of McCartney’s girlfriend at the time, Jane Asher.

Peter & Gordon (Gordon Waller) were part of the British Invasion that saw a slew of English music groups find success in the U.S. in the wake of the Beatles. Another was Chad & Jeremy (Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde), a more folk-inflected duo with hits such as “Yesterday’s Gone” and “A Summer Song.”

On Sunday, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m., one-half of each duo — Asher and Clyde, or Peter & Jeremy, if you will  — comes to the Iron Horse in Northampton for an evening of music and reminiscing. They have some good stories to tell, as both moved on to many other things after their days as singers (Clyde and Stuart have continued to perform occasionally over the years). But Clyde has also had a successful career on stage, television (“Downton Abbey”) and film (“The Iron Lady”), and Asher produced records for and managed artists such as James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt.

Tickets are $30 plus fees; more information is at iheg.com.

— Steve Pfarrer

   

 

 

 

 

 

 




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