Becoming Martin by Kevin Willmott at The Coterie Theatre in Kansas City (10/6/18 Sat at 2pm)

I remember clearly my first theatre experience. It was a trip to Timber Lake Playhouse in Mt. Carroll to see Raggedy Ann & Andy. The Coterie is my son’s first theatre experience. He’s seen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, No Talking and now Becoming Martin. It’s a wonderful introduction to theatre for him.

Becoming Martin is a great introduction to Martin Luther King, Jr. and his beliefs, pulling from his college years from the age of 14-18. Kevin Willmott is exceptional in his ability to tie the past with the present. There are echoes of the old struggle of peaceful disturbance, nonviolent resistance, as modeled by Ghandi and adapted into the Civil Rights movement. This relates to being willing to lose one’s livelihood for a cause, which harkens to Kapernick and his peaceful protests during the anthem.

All of the actors were exceptional and the set, as my son whispered, ‘broke the fourth wall because Sadie Mays (Sherri Roulette-Mosley) keeps walking past us.’ Dr. Benjamin E. Mays (Walter Coppage) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (Aaron Ellis) carried the majority of the play, building the relationship as well as teaching the audience about the history of the era. Professor George D. Kelsey (George L. Forbes) and Martin Luther King, Sr. (Granvile O’Neal) worked with Dr. and Mrs. Mays to mentor “M.L.”, as Martin Luther King, Jr., was called.

All the characters built a cohesive story, while not sugarcoating or sidestepping the difficult issues of lynching, racial divides, Jim Crow, tyrants and murderers, and the true reasons behind nonviolent resistance. It is a well crafted work, and I was honored to see this World Premiere with my family.


Author’s note: The author does her best to give credit to both actors and technical talent, and #tags everyone listed in the program even if not named in the written play response. If you feel anyone contributed to the production that was not named or tagged, or any corrections, please contact the author via the original source.

All rights reserved – Jessie Salsbury

Pronouns: she/her/hers

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