PlayMakers opens season with ‘The Mountaintop’ Sept. 18

PlayMakers MountaintopPosterPlayMakers Repertory Company kicks off its new main-stage season Sept. 18-Oct. 6 with the regional premiere of “The Mountaintop” by Katori Hall. The play focuses on the last night in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

PlayMakers is the professional theater in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Special events associated with the show begin Sept. 11.

“The Mountaintop” is a co-production with Triad Stage in Greensboro, combining the artistic forces of two of North Carolina’s leading theater companies. The partnership offers the region a unique opportunity to experience this innovative and moving play throughout the fall, as the nation commemorates Dr. King’s legacy and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and his seminal “I Have a Dream” speech.

Set on April 3, 1968 in Memphis, Tenn., at the Lorraine Motel, “The Mountaintop” unfolds on the historic last night in the life of the civil rights icon. A visitation from a mysterious woman leads him to confront his innermost thoughts and fears on the stormy evening before his assassination.

(Left to right) Lakisha May as Camae and Cedric Mays as Martin Luther King Jr. (photo by Jon Gardiner)
(Left to right) Lakisha May as Camae and Cedric Mays as Martin Luther King Jr. (photo by Jon Gardiner)

PlayMakers performances will be in the Paul Green Theatre in UNC’s Department for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road. Show times will be 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and Sunday, Sept. 29; 2 p.m. Sundays and Saturday, Oct 5. There are no performances Saturday, Sept. 28.

For a complete schedule, more information and to purchase tickets, call (919) 962-PLAY (7529) or visit Individual ticket prices start at $15. Tickets are also available as part of PlayMakers’ 2013-2014 subscription packages.

The play premiered in London to critical acclaim, winning the Olivier Award for Best New Play (2009). A hit Broadway run followed, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett. The Independent (London) called it “breathtaking, hilarious and heart-stopping.” Variety said “The Mountaintop” is “emotionally powerful and theatrically stunning.”

The co-production will be directed by PlayMakers associate artist Raelle Myrick-Hodges, who helmed the theater company’s hit production of “A Raisin in the Sun” last season and also directed “Topdog/Underdog” (2008) and “I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady From Rwanda” (2010).

Lakisha May as Camae. (photo by Jon Gardiner)
Lakisha May as Camae. (photo by Jon Gardiner)

Cedric Mays appears as Martin Luther King Jr. and Lakisha May performs the role of Camae.

In conjunction with “The Mountaintop,” PlayMakers will host “The Vision Series-Directors in Conversation,” a behind-the-scenes preview with director Myrick-Hodges, Sept. 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the Paul Green Theatre. The event is free and open to the public. Participants share coffee and hors d’oeuvres provided by series sponsor Jujube Restaurant, learn about the vision for the show and get a sneak peek at the sets and costumes in progress. Reservations are appreciated. Call PlayMakers’ box office at (919) 962-7529.

Other special events will include:

  • Sept. 16, 7 p.m.: “In the Wings,” a series created by PlayMakers and the Durham County Library. Cast and creative team members (designers, actors and production personnel) discuss the play at the Main Library, 300 N. Roxboro St., downtown Durham;
  • Sept 18, 19 and 20, 7:30 p.m.: preview performances;
  • Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m.: opening night performance with complimentary gala party afterward;
  • Sept. 24: an all-access performance for attendees with special needs, with sign language interpretation and audio description;
  • Sept. 25 and 29: free post-show discussions with members of the creative team;
  • Sept. 29, 2 p.m.: open captioned performance;
  • Oct. 5: 1-6 p.m. UNC’s Program in the Humanities presents “The History and Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement” followed by a reception and the 7:30 p.m. performance of “The Mountaintop.” Optional theater ticket is $28; tuition for the seminar is $75. For more information and to register visit
  • Oct. 5 and 6: free post-show “Mindplay” discussions sponsored by the North Carolina Psychoanalytic Society.
Cedric Mays as Martin Luther King Jr. (photo by Jon Gardiner)
Cedric Mays as Martin Luther King Jr. (photo by Jon Gardiner)

PlayMakers and Triad Stage are planning additional community events in conjunction with the play. Check for updates.

Carol Woods Retirement Community is corporate co-producer for “The Mountaintop.” Additional funding has been provided by the North Carolina Arts Council.

During its 2013-14 main-stage season, PlayMakers will also present “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare with “Metamorphoses” by Mary Zimmerman (performed in rotating repertory, Nov. 2-Dec. 8); Noel Coward’s comedy classic “Private Lives” (Jan. 22-Feb.9); and the regional premiere of “Love Alone” (Feb. 26-March 16). The season concludes with Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning musical “Assassins” (April 2-20). 

PlayMakers is based in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences. The Drama League has named PlayMakers and Triad Stage among the “best regional theatre companies in America.”

PlayMakers website: 

Triad Stage website: