Music by Douglas Tappin

Monday, January 15 – 7:30 PM  |  Martin Luther King Jr. Day

The story of a preacher from Atlanta

The inspiring story of the famous preacher and iconic civil rights leader from Atlanta is brought to life in this deeply moving premiere performance that beautifully fuses opera with bluesy, jazzy, and gospel-tinged rhythms. In a stirring account of his most intimate moments shared with wife Coretta Scott King and close friend Ralph Abernathy, we discover that the themes of equality and justice from the Civil Rights Movement are echoed in our political sentiments today. Despite the well-chronicled tragedy that ended the preacher’s life 50 years ago, the audience is left beaming with the hope of his dream in their hearts.

Presented at Fountain Street Church

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Language: Presented in English

Run time: 2 hours 30 minutes

32nd Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Event | Fountain Street Church

In collaboration with:


5:30 PM   Doors open

6:00-7:00 PM   University Program | Sanctuary

  • Presidents’ Welcome
  • Keeping the Dream Alive Winning Essay
  • Inherit the Dream Scholarship Awards
  • MLK Video Presentation
  • Keynote Speaker #OscarsSoWhite Creator April Reign

7:30 PM   I DREAM performance | Sanctuary


The MLK Day Celebration and the performance of I DREAM are open to the public and seating is available on a first-come basis at the door. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Casting, repertoire and event details are subject to change without notice, but are specified in good faith as accurate and updated accordingly.

Douglas Tappin  |  Composer

Douglas Tappin is a writer and composer who was born and educated in the United Kingdom. A former commercial attorney and member of the Honrarble Society of Lincoln’s Inn who practiced as a barrister in England for eleven years, Douglas Tappin earned his post-graduate degree from Atlanta’s McAfee School of Theology, he also received a music theory certifictation from The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.

Tappin’s unique approach to writing and composition is full of innovation. His authentic style is ideal for story telling, arising from his unique analytical mind, literary background and gifted musicianship.

Tappin was inspired to write “I Dream” after pouring over hundreds of books about and by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and interviewing those who knew him and advocated with him. What has emerged is a work of music theater that tells the journey toward Dr. King’s push for nonviolence and continues through his legacy.

“As I imagined his life, I saw something clear. There was a plight,” Tappin said. “People in this country with a plight. It was something he saw and experienced in childhood as he grew up in the South.”

The composer said King wondered whether that plight would always exist and how best to impact change. He said the song “Victory by Love” tells the tale of nonviolence, but speaks to King’s own self-questioning that was born from leading a fight for change between two sects of people: those who felt complacency was the right approach versus those who felt action at all costs was the right approach.

“It is between those two opposing things that he found the right thing to do,” Tappin said. “The right thing to do at the right time, and we call that a dream.”


Carl Marsh  |  Orchestrations & Music Director

Grammy© nominated arranger/composer Carl Marsh has been an integral part of the North American recording industry for over three decades. He began his musical career at the age of five on piano, adding bassoon, recorder and guitar by age 12. By the time he reached the age of 20, he was proficient on over 30 instruments.

Carl’s early influences were eclectic: Blood Sweat and Tears, Charlie Patton, Maurice Ravel, The Beatles and Nat King Cole. He developed his pop abilities by playing in some of the most popular bands in Memphis, Tennessee, where the blues and R&B are staples of everyday life.

Carl’s classical life as a bassoonist was marked by numerous early awards, climaxing in 1972, when he was tapped to study with Bernard Garfield, principal bassoonist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Almost simultaneously, about 150 miles away in New York, he was being signed as a recording artist (vocalist) to Arista Records in New York by the legendary Clive Davis. Read more.



Daniel Goldstein  |  Director

Daniel Goldstein was most recently represented on Broadway by the revival of Godspell. He has directed over 100 plays and musicals worldwide, including work at major theaters across America and Asia.

His recent and upcoming projects include the Broadway: Godspell, Off Broadway: Walmartopia, Lower Ninth by Beau Willimon, Indoor/Outdoor; Regional: Venus in Fur, Falsettos, Les Liasons Dangereuses and God of Carnage (Huntington), Hello Dolly! and Damn Yankees (Goodspeed), Anna Christie (Old Globe), Artificial Fellow Traveler Work Now!, Ars Nova, Williamstown Theatre Festival, True West (Williamstown Theatre Festival), and Miss Margarida’s Way (Bay Street Theatre, with Julie Halston). He is also developing and writing a solo show with Wayne Brady. Read more.




Darnell Abraham  |  Martin

Darnell Abraham has established himself a versatile artist by seamlessly slipping into character for contemporary or traditional musical theater. In Fall 2017, he was awarded the Berkshire Theatre Critics Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical and nominated for two BroadwayWorld Regional Awards for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor in a Musical. In addition, Darnell is currently a member of the First National Tour of the Tony Award-Winning Broadway Revival, The Color Purple.

Recent theatrical and studio engagements include: Ragtime (Coalhouse, Barrington Stage Company & Ogunquit Playhouse), Side Show (Jake, The Media Theatre), Festival of the Lion King (Nakawa, The Walt Disney Co.), and Tekken 7 soundtrack (Bandai Namco Entertainment). Darnell has also performed for audiences around the world and has collaborated with Grammy and Emmy award-winning artists in the studio and on the concert stage. Read more.




Laquita Mitchell  |  Coretta

Soprano Laquita Mitchell consistently earns acclaim on eminent international opera and concert stages, leading performances with Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera, Washington National Opera, and Opéra Comique in Paris, New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, among many others.

This season, she will sing selections of Porgy and Bess with Allentown Symphony, the soprano solo in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Berkeley Symphony, Violetta in La traviata with Opera Memphis, and the world première of Moravec’s Sanctuary Road at Carnegie Hall with Oratorio Society of New York. Read more.





Kenneth Overton  |  Ralph

Kenneth Overton is lauded for blending his opulent baritone with magnetic and varied portrayals that seemingly “emanate from deep within body and soul.” Heralded by the BBC for his “exceptional voice,” Kenneth made his New York City Opera mainstage début in 2012 as Doctor Grenvil in Verdi’s La traviata. That season, Kenneth also made an acclaimed début in the world-première of David Ott’s The Widow’s Lantern at Pensacola Opera, whereby he was immediately re-engaged to star as Joe in Showboat and later Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd the very next season. This season, Overton performs the role of Jake Wallace in La fanciulla del West with New York City Opera, reprises the title role of Porgy and Bess with Margaret Island Open-Air Theatre in Budapest, sings Angela Rice’s Thy Will Be Done with National Chorale, and joins San Francisco Opera for the world-première of Girls of the Golden West, a new opera by John Adams and Peter Sellars. Read more.





Lucia Bradford  |  Jennie Williams (Grandma)

Mezzo-soprano, Lucia Bradford is a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. Ms. Bradford has performed a number of operatic roles including Carmen in Bizet’s La Tragedie de Carmen, Zita in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, La Principessa in Puccini’s Suor Angelica, The Mother in Ravel’s L’Enfant des Sortileges, Mercedes in Bizet’s Carmen, Mrs. Quickly in Verdi’s Falstaff, The Sorceress in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Gertrude in Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, Hippolyta in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Miss Todd in Menotti’s Old Maid and the Thief, the Duchess of Plaza Toro in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers, Azelia Dessalines in the historic return of William Grant Still’s opera Troubled Island with New York City Opera at the Schomburg Center, Maria in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and the Mother of Paul Dunbar in the premiere of The Mask in the Mirror by Richard Thompson. Read more.





Greg Kirkland  |  Hosea

Faced with the task of trying to revive a generation that has been labeled as hopeless and without a cause, there is one who is willing to accept the challenge. Greg Kirkland, Jr., a native of Brooklyn, New York, was once the lead singer of the chart-topping gospel teen sensation, Five Young Men. While together, the group made appearances on such shows as the Donny and Marie Osmond Show, Nickelodeon’s All That, the heavyweight championship boxing match between Evander Holyfield and Vaughn Bean, the 1997 Presidential Inaugural Ball, BET’s Bobby Jones Gospel Hour, and a host of many others. Read more.






Caebre Baty |  Young Martin

Caebre Baty is excited to be performing with Opera Grand Rapids. I DREAM is his third performance with Opera Grand Rapids following his participation in 2015’s Tosca and Noah’s Flood. He has performed at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre in Caroline or Change, 2016. He is a member of Grand Rapids Youth Symphony Chorus and a former member of the Grand Rapids African American Youth Chorus. Caebre enjoys piano, basketball, and cross country.







ACT 1.  On the morning of April 3rd 1968, a young preacher from Atlanta prepares for a journey to Memphis, Tennessee to join striking sanitation workers.  During the night he has experienced a recurring dream – one that is a disconcerting mix of reminiscence and premonition.  Always, at the center of the dream, is the image of a balcony that has about it a strange sense of foreboding, and destiny, and a moment he knows he is not yet ready to face, but cannot yet explain, or see beyond.

As he sets out on his journey to Memphis, boarding a flight from Atlanta’s busy airport with his close friend and confidant, he begins to reflect on episodes of his life, searching for meaning to his dreams…

First, he remembers the harsh personal experience of racism and segregation in the community of his childhood, his dear maternal Grandmother, and the promise he made to her at her deathbed that set his life upon its present course – his promise to love.

Later on his journey, his thoughts return to Boston University, the place where he first articulated his unsophisticated ‘love answer’ to the persecution and injustice he perceived in the world.  It was also where he met the woman who would become his wife, and would set out with him on a life adventure that took them to Montgomery, Alabama where, together, they would play a vital role in the 1955 bus boycott that changed the law.


ACT 2.  Success in Montgomery marks the beginning of a freedom revolution the young preacher is chosen to lead.  But leadership has its cost and consequences, for him and also for his wife who, though representing much of the strength of his life, faces her own challenges raising their young family while her husband is often away from home.  Street by street, city by city, he marched side by side with others committed to seeing communities all across America experience freedom for themselves.

Though he began to focus on winning political success at a national level in Washington DC, most victories were hard-won on streets, and in jail cells throughout the South.  There were significant times when he was vilified and celebrated.  There were struggles around him, war within him, and loneliness and despair along the way from Birmingham to Selma.  Eventually, the brave stand he inspired the people to take in Selma led to the enactment of voting rights legislation in 1965, that changed the course of modern American history.

He remembers this kaleidoscope of events as he arrives in Memphis, most poignantly on the morning after he makes, perhaps, the most emotionally draining speech of his life.  Finally, just thirty-six hours after he set out from home, he sits alone at the edge of his bed in a motel room – late in the afternoon of April 4th.  He knows that outside his room door waits the balcony of his recurring dreams.  Dream has become reality and the moment of dream images is now the moment at hand.