Congressman John Lewis will be an advisor for the production, which has been granted official sanction to use King's words, writing and other property.
The new epic play, press notes state, "provides factually-based slices of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from December 1955 until April 1968. It depicts widely-known historic events as well as more private behind-the-scenes moments." A cast of more than 20 will offer "close-up examinations of Dr. King’s interactions and relationships with Coretta Scott King, other family members, associates, officials and adversaries."
Moments with Dr. King will be performed in two stand-alone parts that can be seen in the course of a matinee and an evening performance, or on two separate evenings.
In a statement Young said he was drawn to Moments with Dr. King because "it achieves something remarkable, something I haven't seen before: it captures the essence of Martin, the person he really was. There are important revelations in this close look at how he viewed the world, how he dealt with people at all levels, how he handled his doubts and fears and where his strength and courage came from." Young added that "despite tireless research by the team, only a fraction of Martin’s conversations were fully preserved, and when I read the creative but well-grounded reconstructions of dialogue, it really brought me back to my time with him. I’ve not chosen to produce theater about Martin until now, but this play surprised me, and I’m certain it will electrify audiences."
Eric Falkenstein, a long-time student of the civil rights movement as well as a theatre production and creative executive, leads the writing effort and, together with the creative team, is selecting audio, video and photographic material that will be part of the multi-media elements of the staging. Nappi, who produces film and theatre through his World Harmony Productions shingle and is a board member of The King Center in Atlanta, said this about casting the production: “We’re preparing a long and broad search in casting this large company. In order to achieve what we’re setting out to do, we need principals with just the right fit, especially for Dr. King and Coretta [Scott King]." Casting is scheduled to begin in 2012.
Mr. King was the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.
The Mountaintop, a new play also about Martin Luther King Jr., is currently in previews on Broadway starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.