THE MOUNTAINTOP Opens for Pay-What-You-Can Next Wednesday

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on February 19, 2016

I’ve been saying (and yet saying incorrectly) grandparents bring children to the theatre. I’ve been wrong — it is the children who bring the adults. It’s the children who are building an audience for the future.

If only you could hear the squeals of delight as Little Red Riding Hood scurries through the audience, pursued by the big bad wolf, or the “oohs” and “ahhs” when the mirror ball turns, adding a dash of theatrical sparkle to Rumpelstiltskin’s spinning of straw into gold. If any child learns that eating a good breakfast every morning keeps you healthy — as the eldest goat advises in “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” to ward off many things, including trolls — then we have done our part.

At the closing sold-out performance of Little Red Riding Hood & Friends, we raised $150 for the F.U.E.L. program. A teacher asked one of the many F.U.E.L. participants if he had eaten this weekend. He said no. The teacher went to the child’s home to find out why — the mother was nursing and needed the fuel. It’s hard to wrap my mind around the greatest country having hungry children.

If juggling Blues in the Night performances with The Mountaintop rehearsals wasn’t enough, we have begun rehearsals for The Cat in the Hat, adding Michael C. Brown to our troupe of players.

But it doesn’t end there. The students in the Roxy Regional School of the Arts have started in on the musical Shrek, while also workshopping Beverly Fisher’s Grace Among the Leavings.

And it goes on. Truman Jepson and Lauren Mund, along with understudies Jacob Johnson and Georgia Smith, have started Magnificent Ambersons blocking early, so as not to miss more school time than necessary.

Next week, Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop takes the stage. The play is a two-character telling of what might have been going on in Room 306 of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis the evening of April 3, 1968 — the night before the fatal shooting of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the Roxy Regional Theatre’s production, Dr. King is played to perfection by Phillip Bernard Smith. Another character, Camae, played by Mariah Sade Ralph, answers many questions and sheds a light on Dr. King’s life. Her appearance gives impetus to the telling and correcting of many misconceptions of the man himself. She says King is there for “the garbage men” — Dr. King corrects her with “the sanitation workers.”

As a child growing up in Memphis in the ’50s, I saw the garbage truck pull up and two or three black men toting 25-gallon galvanized tubs walk up driveways through locked gates to the far end of backyards, avoiding barking dogs and their bites.

The Mountaintop opens for our traditional pay-what-you-can preview next Wednesday, February 24, at 7:00pm. Tickets go on sale at 6:30pm Wednesday evening for a $5 minimum donation. Additional performances are Thursday, February 25, at 7:00pm; Friday, February 26, at 8:00pm; and Saturday, February 27, at 2:00pm and 8:00pm.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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