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THE MOUNTAINTOP Continues 14th Season for Dezart Performs

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THE MOUNTAINTOP Continues 14th Season for Dezart Performs
January 14 – 23, 2022

Olivier Award Winning Play by Katori Hall Reimagines
Martin Luther King, Jr. on last day of his life

13 December 2021 – Palm Springs, CA:  It’s April 3, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has just delivered his iconic – and final – speech.  It’s his last night on Earth and the first day on the job for a very unusual housekeeper named Camae.  For playwright Katori Hall it’s the opportunity for a fantastical, moving and prophetic two-step tour-de force for actors Shanté DeLoach and Cortez Johnson. The 2010 Olivier Award winning drama ispresented by Dezart Performs ( 14 – 23, 2022 at the Pearl McManus Theatre in downtown Palm Springs.

“There are 54 years but sadly many similarities between April 1968 and now,” says Michael Shaw, Dezart Performs founding artistic director who is also directing the production. “The issues of race, equity, justice that Dr. King fought and marched for are still will us. In her own way, Katori Hall is as eloquent in her words as was Dr. King in his.”

Not only because of its timing as his final public appearance, but because of its Biblical scope and cadence, Dr. King’s “Mountaintop” speech is considered one of the greatest of the 20th century. Given in defense of the Memphis, Tennessee sanitation workers strike, it has come to symbolize the over-arching and centuries long struggle for racial equity in the United States. Deeply rooted in that history, Katori Hall has crafted a play that tackles the legacy of one of America’s seminal icons and presents him in all his glorious and flawed humanity. When Dr. King first meets Camae, it is over a hidden flask of alcohol and shared cigarettes: specifically humanizing elements. Also, the language of THE MOUNTAINTOP is at once eloquent and earthy, as grounded in Hall’s Tennessee heritage as King’s soaring rhetoric is based in religion and philosophy.

THE MOUNTAINTOP follows the opening show for the esteemed Dezart Performs, GIRLFRIEND, the first ever musical for the company and its first outdoor dinner theatre production, mounted at the Rancho Mirage Amphitheatre. Next is Heidi Schreck’sdramatic exploration of compassion and forgiveness as seen through the eyes of a nun in a Bronx soup kitchen, GRAND CONCOURSE (March 4 – 13). Rounding out the calendar is the one-person comedy/drama EVERY BRILLIANT THING (April 1 – 10) by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe and directed by Deborah Harmon. EVERY BRILLIANT THING was originally the final production of the 2020 Season, delayed by COVID.  Individual tickets are now on sale for shows. Season packages for Dezart Performs’ Pearl McManus Theater productions are also on sale online at or by calling (760) 322-0179

“For the health, safety and well-being of our patrons, staff and artists, Dezart Performs’ COVID-19 policy requires guests to be fully vaccinated,” reminds Shaw. “Upon arrival at all events, guests must present a photo ID along with proof that they meet the CDC definition of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, either in the form of a physical vaccination card or a photo of the card. Also, mask must be worn indoors at all times, except when eating or drinking.”

Shaw and the company stress, that this policy is subject to changes at any time, in accordance with local, state and federal guidelines. Please check the Dezart Performs website for current policy guidelines before attending any scheduled performance date.

Dezart Performs, one of the Coachella Valley’s preeminent theatre companies, recognizes that the performing arts enrich the life and culture of a community, promote greater understanding and provoke insightful discussion. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit theatre company, its mission is to provide an artistic home for bold and cutting–edge plays, creating an atmosphere of artistic growth for actors, writers, and directors who uniquely contribute to the diverse theatrical environment in the Coachella Valley.

All performances take place at the Pearl McManus Theater (at the historic Palm Springs Woman’s Club) 314 S Cahuilla Road, Downtown Palm Springs. Tickets may be purchased online at, or by calling (760) 322-0179. Showtimes are Fridays at 7:30pm; Saturdays at 2pm and 7:30pm; Sundays at 2pm. 

14th Dezart Performs Complete Season Listing


January 14-23, 2022

Written by Katori Hall


Directed by Michael Shaw

Pearl McManus Theater

2010 Winner, Olivier Award for Best Play

A re-imagined depiction of Martin Luther King Jr.’s last night on earth set entirely in Room 306 of the Lorraine Motel on the eve of his assassination in 1968. After delivering his famous “I’ve been to the mountaintop speech”, King goes to the Lorraine Motel to rest. His world is spun on his axis when he meets Camae, a young, feisty and foul-mouthed maid, who delivers his room service. 

“Funny and emotionally charged… a powerful, poetic take on [King’s] legacy.” -Philip Brandes, Los Angeles Times

“Intriguing, shocking, funny… a stunning evening.” – Dale Reynolds, EDGE Los Angeles

*   *   *


March 4-13, 2022

Written by Heidi Schreck

Directed by Michael Shaw


Pearl McManus Theater

2015 Lucille Lortel Award Nominee

Having dedicated her life to religious service, Shelley runs a Bronx soup kitchen with unsentimental efficiency, but lately her heart’s not quite in it. Her brisk nature masks an unsettling fear that her efforts are meaningless. When Emma – an idealistic but confused college dropout – arrives to volunteer, her reckless mix of generosity and self-involvement pushes Shelley to the breaking point. 

“Insightful with a moving, even shocking epiphany.” – Huffington Post

“[Heidi Schreck] writes fluid, natural dialogue and creates detailed characters that offer generous opportunities for actors… the words have the ring of plain truth.” – The New York Times

*   *   *


April 1-10, 2022

Written by Duncan Macmillan, with Jonny Donahoe

Directed by Deborah Harmon


Pearl McManus Theater

You’re six years old. Mom’s in the hospital. Dad says she’s “done something stupid.” She finds it hard to be happy. So you start to make a list of everything that’s brilliant about the world. Everything that’s worth living for. 1. Ice cream. 2. Kung Fu movies. 3. Burning things. 4. Laughing so hard you shoot milk out your nose. 5. Constructions cranes. 6. Me. You leave it on her pillow. You know she’s read it because she’s corrected your spelling. Soon, the list will take on a life of its own. A play about depression and the lengths we will go for those we love.

“A heart-wrenching, hilarious play…One of the funniest plays you’ll ever see about depression—and possibly one of the funniest plays you’ll ever see, full stop!” —The Guardian

In this rehearsal photo, Camae (Shanté DeLoach) added from her flask to the coffee for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr (Cortez Johnson) in the upcoming production of THE MOUNTAINTOP, opening January 14, 2022. (Photo by Clark Dugger)