capital-rep.JPGKatori Hall's controversial play brings new humanity to slain Civil Rights leader Albany, N.Y. - April 3, 1968. Room 306. The Lorraine Motel. Memphis, Tennessee. We all know what happens the next morning. But playwright Katori Hall has an idea of what happened that rainy night on Mulberry Street; in the hours between Martin Luther King, Jr.'s stirring speech for sanitation strikers at the Mason Temple and the moment he was shot through the cheek on the balcony outside his second floor room. Hall's controversial Olivier Award-winning play, The Mountaintop, opens at Capital Repertory Theatre immediately following America's celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Preview performances begin January 17. Opening Night is January 21. Performances continue through February 9. The Mountaintop imagines a mortal Martin Luther King. A leader, yes, but also a man grappling with faith, fame, and the future on the last night of his life. This is a King who smokes, drinks and cusses. It's also a King who frets over the fashion of his mustache, picks at the holes in his socks and worries over the hard work yet to be done. Enter Camae, a new, young maid at the Lorraine. She brings King coffee, then shares a smoke while the preacher waits for his friend and confidante Ralph Abernathy-himself gone for a fresh pack of Pall Malls. Abernathy never arrives; Camae stays. As the evening wears on, it becomes clear that she is a messenger of sorts, helping King prepare-prepare for the promised land he'd glimpsed from the mountaintop only hours prior. "I'm happy, tonight," King had concluded in his address, "I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord." Hall's brilliant language and fearless mind create a scene that bristles with possibility, hums with humanity and-veering towards a shimmering magical realism-haunts with her own vision of truth. Is it any wonder she's been called one of "Theater's hottest new voices." At theREP, the regional premiere of The Mountaintop is directed by Nick Mangano. Mangano is Director of Theatre at Stony Brook Southampton, where he also heads the Southampton International Theatre Workshops & Festival each summer. Mangano has worked extensively with composer Steve Reich; was co-founder and Artistic Director of the Garson Theatre Company in Santa Fe, New Mexico; and has taught and directed at prestigious conservatories and universities, including the American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.), The University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music (CCM), and Yale. Previously, Mangano directed The Grapes of Wrath, Dancing at Lughnasa, and M. Butterfly for theREP. Brandon Jones makes his Capital Repertory Theatre debut as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Jones has worked extensively in New York and Brooklyn; and regionally at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Lexington Shakespeare Festival and Whaler's Wharf Theater. Liz Morgan brings credits from Trinity Rep, Huntington Theatre Company and the Harlem Shakespeare Festival to her debut at theREP as Camae. Scenic designer David Esler returns to theREP after creating a different kind of hotel room for The Sparkley Clean Funeral Singers earlier this season. Costume designer Carolyn Walker tackles her third show at theREP, following Race and This Wonderful Life. Michael Giannitti is a veteran; The Mountaintop being his ninth effort at Capital Repertory Theatre. Sound designer David Thomas is also a welcome friend downtown, with 33 Variations, Man of La Mancha and Single Girls Guide among his many productions on North Pearl Street. Projection designer Brian Massman has trod the boards at theREP in M. Butterfly and other shows, but is now working on the other side of the stage with Mangano on visuals for The Mountaintop. Preview performances for The Mountaintop-which runs approximately 90 minutes with no intermission-take place Feb. 17-19. Opening night is Tuesday, Jan. 21. Regular performances continue through Sunday, Feb. 9. Performance times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday-with matinees 3 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; and 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29. Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 N. Pearl Street, Albany. Tickets range from $20 to $60. Students with valid ID: $16 all shows. For tickets and information, call TICKETS BY PROCTORS, (518) 445-SHOW (7469) or visit capitalrep.org. Opening night includes a live café performance at 6:30 p.m. featuring the Church of God of Prophecy gospel ensemble, In10tional, under the direction of Patty Gordon; and complimentary post-show champagne and dessert. The Chef's Table performance, on Tuesday, Jan. 28, includes pre-show music by cellist Monica Wilson-Roach and complimentary hors d'oeuvres for ticket holders from Albany Pump Station and Taste, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the lobby. Discussion nights for The Mountaintop, with the director and cast members, will take place following the Wednesday evening performances on Jan. 29. and Feb. 5. The Sunday, Feb. 9 matinee will be preceded by a Behind-the-Scenes event, which features a complimentary light continental breakfast and discussion led by Producing Artistic Director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill. Food service begins at 12:30 p.m., with the presentation following from 1-1:30 p.m. The Mountaintop contains strong adult language. The Mountaintop is sponsored by Omni Development Company, Inc. and Albany Broadcasting. ###