Milwaukee Chamber Theater Presents ‘THE MOUNTAINTOP’ with Nightly Legacy Awards Honoring Local Heros

The Legacy Of Dr. King

“THE MOUNTAINTOP”, a play written by Katori Hall, takes its audience back to the night of April 3, 1968, the day before Martin Luther King Jr.’s death. The production has been brought to Milwaukee by the Milwaukee Chamber Theater (MCT).

In the MOUNTAINTOP, Dr. King had just returned to his room in the Lorraine Motel when a storm raged outside. While waiting for his pack of cigarettes, he ordered a coffee. Camae, an angel disguised as a maid in the play, showed up at his door. Dr. King is then left to confront his destiny and legacy through his conversation with Camae. THE MOUNTAINTOP brings Dr. King to a human level to show that we all have the power to make the world a better place.

The Milwaukee production is directed by Dimonte Henning and features actors Bryant Bentley and N’Jameh Russell-Camara who play Dr. King and Camae. On stage, Bentley and Russell-Camara deliver an impactful and emotional performance giving their audience a piece of what Dr. King’s mind could have been like the night before his assassination. The use of light comedy cuts through intense moments of the production and brings a level of humanity to such a revolutionary leader.

Bryant Bentley and N’Jameh Russell-Camara as Dr. Martin Luther King and Camae in the Milwaukee production of “THE MOUNTAINTOP” written by Katori Hall. (Picture by Michael Brasilow)

The Legacy Awards and Honorees

This year, beginning with the opening performance of MOUNTAINTOP, the MCT introduced the Legacy Award in collaboration with America’s Black Holocaust Museum, CopyWrite Magazine, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, and Zao MKE Church. At each performance, MCT will honor a Milwaukee difference-maker who exemplifies the ideals of unity, equity, and locally led movements highlighted by Dr. King in his final speech, “The Mountaintop Speech.”

The inaugural 2024 MTC Legacy Award recipients are Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, and Owner and Editor-in-Chief of CopyWrite Magazine and Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design associate professor Lexi S. Brunson.

A full list of recipients can be found here.

Award recipients were selected by a panel of MCT artists and community partners from a pool of publicly nominated candidate submissions. The awardees practice the ideals of Dr. King in all sectors of the city including, politics, nonprofit organizations, business, education, art, and tech.

Lafayette Crump, an awardee and a member of the planning committee, was present at the March 9, 2024 performance to support the night’s winners.

“It’s not common I see a play two times during its run but I wanted to come and experience it so I could tell people about it,” said Crump. “It’s really special work and I thought I should be here to tell people about it afterward.”

Legacy Night

The MCT is extending a special invitation to Black community members to participate in a celebration of Black History and culture at its Legacy Night on March 22, 2024. The night intends to create an environment for a Black audience to come together and experience a play about a Black leader by an all-Black cast in a space that centers Black perspectives.

“It’s rare for something like this to happen in Milwaukee,” said Crump. “To have a non-Black organization deliberately take the step to ensure Black people have the space to experience this show and share cultural experiences is something unique.”

Legacy Night was inspired by the 2019 achievement of actor and playwright Jeremy O. Harris, who had an all-Black audience in Broadway’s Golden Theater. The name was chosen as a nod to the strong theme of legacy throughout the play and to honor the legacies the Black community continues to make in Milwaukee. MCT encourages non-Black audience members to join them on another performance date.

For more information and tickets click here.

Maria Peralta-Arellano is a Milwaukee-native journalist who focuses on sharing news from her local communities. She dedicates her work to accessibility and producing bilingual coverage focused on arts, culture, and politics. She looks to explore her community through a journalistic and creative lens.

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