No promise on ‘The Mountaintop’

No promise on ‘The Mountaintop’
Samuel L. Jackson portrays Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., left, and Angela Bassett portrays Camae in Katori Hall’s play “The Mountaintop,” at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater in New York.
AP Photo/The O+M Company, Joan Marcus
AP Photo/The O+M Company, Joan Marcus

What Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. revealed in a Dream speech acclaimed for its visionary insight seems to be challenged nightly on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.

Granted the arguments of contention are penned by playwright Katori Hall and voiced by thespians Samuel Jackson and Angela Bassett, still they resonate with toxic malignancy to defy the credibility of the man who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his dedication to human decency.

In the play “The Mountaintop” MLK’s dream is transformed to a nightmarish premonition in Memphis, Tennessee on the eve of his assassination. Disregarding the historic accounts that identify the Baptist minister as a deeply religious, honest, shepherd, the production exploits vulnerable and perhaps contrived aspects to win appeal with audiences.

Repetitive use of the N-word, flagrant consumption of alcohol, a suggestion that the Civil Rights leader might seduce a lowly hotel worker, and any number of theatrical enhancements aid in bolstering the attraction which was originally billed for a limited engagement.

Neither Jackson – who portrays the assassinated Black leader – nor Bassett — depicting Camae, the hotel’s angelic messenger seem to ever capture the full attention one might expect from a Broadway production. Instead, patrons seem awed by revelations from room-service at the reputed Lorraine Hotel.

First presented in London, England, the production won a measure of acclaim there.

Here, audiences are pondering the merit and reason why such a damning, diatribe is passing for theater.

Some who have been to “The Mountaintop” consider it an insult to the King legacy.

“What was that all about?” Don Thomas, a patron asked after seeing the comedic/drama. “What was all that about…and the anti-Jesse Jackson stuff, why?”

‘Color Rwanda, Campaign To Benefit War Victims

A philanthropic drive to help the estimated 20,000 Rwandan children born of rape during the 1994 genocide there mobilized sympathizers to purchase coloring books composed of drawings from youths from the African nation. Organized by Foundation Rwanda in conjunction with LBi Syrup, a “Color Rwanda With Hope” benefit and art exhibition was held to raise funds for the women and children. Reportedly, many of the women who were raped are now afflicted by HIV/AIDS and also shunned by society and their families. The goal is to raise funds to aid the reported 20,000 youths who will turn 17 next year and are unable to attend secondary schools without assistance.

“Art has the ability to cross borders, win hearts and change minds,” a Foundation spokesperson said. Allegedly, profits from the coloring book will benefit disfranchised families to pursue education which “provides endless possibilities for the future, helping people grow and accomplish their biggest dreams.”

Drawings in the book reflect simple items such as a football, a house, plants, water tap, images of stick figures holding hands, a tree, a car, bird or cloud – which is interpreted to reflected the desires of the youths yearning for clean air, water, family and peace. During the fundraiser, a film reprising the horrors of the 100 day war reflected the arbitrary murders of more than three quarters of a million of the population. Marcus Samuelsson, UNICEF ambassador and celebrity chef provided the keynote address to guests along with Foundation Rwanda Executive Director Jules Shell and LBi Syrup CEO Omino Gardezi who gave impassioned messages about the importance of the cause. The purchase of a single coloring book, they said could support one child’s annual secondary school education.

“The brush is in your hand…color Rwanda with hope!” a campaign mantra stated.

For more info. on the campaign log onto

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