Making The Mountaintop

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Before The Mountaintop reached London’s West End and Broadway, Katori Hall’s play made a modest debut at Theatre 503, a 56-seat fringe theater above a pub in South London. The play was first brought to 503 by director James Dacre ’10CC, and there caught the eye of theater producer Marla Rubin ’85CC, who was electrified by what she witnessed at the tiny venue.

“I was at the opening night,” says the London-based Rubin, who was also one of the producers for the Broadway production, “and at the end of the show I turned to my date and said, ‘Was that as’ — and then I used an expletive — ‘amazing, as I think it was?’ And he said, ‘No. It was better.’” Rubin, who had been speaking with Theatre 503’s co-artistic directors Tim Roseman and Paul Robinson about a possible collaboration, worked quickly to bring in additional producers, and was able to move the play to Trafalgar Studios in the West End.

“It was in July,” she says, “which, in terms of theater, is really the worst time to transfer a play or to begin a play, because it’s off-season. It allowed us to get the theater space, but it was available only for seven weeks, because Othello was coming in September. “

Undeterred, Rubin launched The Mountaintop commercially, and convinced the committee for London’s most prestigious theater award, the Olivier, to attend the production. “It was a very brief window,” she says, “but happily, they came to see it.”

— SK

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