Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Route Climbs to THE MOUNTAINTOP

As New Route Theatre gears up for the last production of their 2012-13 season, they are also celebrating their accomplishments from 2012.

It was a very good year for New Route, moving into a new space in the YWCA on Hershey Road in Bloomington, producing shows with longer runs, adding the Word Weavers writing program for seniors and still keeping the One Shot Deal series alive at the Eaton Gallery. That's a lot of production for one small, fairly new company! But, after all, New Route has a mission. What is the mission? To do professional quality theatre using a broad spectrum of artists who represent the community in all of its diversity.

As Artistic Director Don Shandrow notes, "If you look at our 2012-2013 season that reaches its summit with The Mountaintop you will see ten productions, across all of our programs, that reflect the diversity of this community."

He explains: "Of these ten productions, three were compilation scripts. Of the seven remaining scripts, six were by women playwrights. Of those six, one was by a Palestinian-American woman and the remaining three by African-American women.

"As we move forward into 2013 and beyond, it is our intent to build on this foundation as we work toward an even more diverse and inclusive theatre company."

And about that Mountaintop... Katori Hall's play about the last night in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. premiered in London in 2009 in a much-acclaimed production directed by James Dacre with British actor David Harewood as Dr. King, then hit Broadway in 2011 with Samuel L. Jackson in the lead role. Jackson's costar was Oscar nominee Angela Bassett.

Katori Hall, Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett and Kenny Leon, who directed the Broadway Mountaintop, each did a brief video piece about the play if you'd like to learn more.

Don Shandrow will direct The Mountaintop for New Route, with Gregory D. Hicks as his Dr. King. Hicks has been involved with New Route Theatre with productions like Fabulation, which he directed and acted in last year, and with area theaters like Heartland Theatre Company, where he played young poet Franco Hicks in Superior Donuts last spring. He's also worked with the Black Actors Guild at Illinois State University, directing The Mystical Willie Lynch in February, 2011.

Fania Bourne will star opposite Hicks as Camae, a mysterious maid who brings coffee to King's hotel room on that last day and begins a conversation with him about life, death, what it is to come up short, and what it means to dream big. The name Camae is a nickname for Carrie Mae. Or perhaps "Carry Me."

Bourne has also appeared before with New Route, most recently in Fat Jack's, a One Shot Deal show in 2011.

The Mountaintop will begin performances at 7:30 pm on February 8th, continuing with 7:30 shows on the 9th, 15th, 16th, 22nd and 23rd, and 2:30 pm matinees on February 10th, 17th and 24th. New Route's performances of The Mountaintop will take place at the YWCA of McLean County, which is located at 1201 North Hershey Road in Bloomington. Tickets can be reserved by e-mailing

For more information about New Route Theatre and their entire schedule, you can visit their Facebook page here.

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