The musical, KING, has never been fully produced. The closest the world has come to seeing a fully fledged production has been two concert performances of the show. One in 1988 and again this year, in the 50th anniversary year of Martin Luther King’s assassination. I managed to get my hands on a ticket to this rare and heartfelt musical.
The show’s creator, Martin Smith, was born in Glasgow, Scotland. A lifelong fan of musical theatre, Smith was a talented actor and performer in addition to his love for composing, arranging and writing.
Unfortunately, while Smith was putting together the finishing touches on the show, another version of an MLK musical was also being produced which lead to hiccups and confusion. Smith even spoke to Martin’s widow, Coretta King, over the phone to ensure her approval. However, after flying all the way to Atlanta to meet with her and present KING she apologised to him for confusing his musical with the other. It turned out it was the other musical that Coretta had given her approval to.
Despite the show’s 1988 performance being sold out and receiving rave reviews from critics, a fully staged West End performance was not in the cards. However, after seeing this year’s performance, I not only have a strong belief that this show should be onstage for everyone to see but at a time like this, is what the world needs.
We all know MLK’s story. But for most of us that’s all that it is. Something that someone else experienced once upon a time. This show reminded me that outside of my tiny bubble, even half a century later, the world is still struggling and many of us choose to ignore it. I implore you to remember the power that our voices, our solidarity and the love in our hearts has on the ever changing world. Stand up for what you believe in. Speak out against what you don’t.
This performance moved me to tears and had the entire packed out theatre on their feet at it’s end. Thank you to everyone who brought this show to the world again and to the most talented vocalists I have ever seen on a stage. I can only hope that some day soon you all are lucky enough to see it too.