I Dream (opera)

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I Dream
MusicDouglas Tappin
LyricsDouglas Tappin
BookDouglas Tappin
ProductionsAtlanta, GA

I Dream is a fully through-composed Opera by Douglas Tappin (librettist, lyricist, composer), based on the life of Martin Luther King Jr..

The world premiere of this Rhythm and Blues Opera opened in July 2010[1] on the Alliance Stage of the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia.



On the morning of April 3, 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.


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 4. 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.

Original Atlanta Creative Team & Cast[edit]

The Creative Team included:

  • Jasmine Guy - Director
  • Carl Marsh - Orchestration
  • Keith Williams - Musical Director

With Choreography by Dawn Axam, and Designs by Kat Conley (Set), Joseph Futral (Lighting), Shilla Benning (Costumes), and Bobby Johnston (Sound).

Critical Acclaim for Atlanta Premiere[edit]

I Dream opened to mostly positive reviews from both the press and those involved with the Civil Rights Movement. RollingOut.com said "The life of Dr. King as chronicled in the stage musical I Dream, is right on time as a reminder of what the fight was for. The dynamically talented cast delivered stirring performances to move audience members through each riveting scene."[2] Creative Loafing reported that "Tappin's hugely ambitious world premiere follows the example of Broadway's big, rock-influenced musicals such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, and Les Miserables."[3] The Huffington Post stated "[The show brought] some of the heartiest former Civil Rights activists in the house to tears, before raising them to their feet at the finale for, perhaps, the greatest standing ovation the show will ever receive."[4]

Nominated in 10 categories for Atlanta's 2009-2010 Suzi Bass Award,[5] I Dream won in the "Outstanding World Premiere" (Play or Musical) category.

Concept Recording[edit]

A Concept Album of I Dream entitled I Dream (The Concept Recording) was recorded in 2015, featuring Quentin Darrington as 'Martin' and Avery Sunshine as 'Coretta' - released for digital download and streaming, including on iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify [6]

Additional Productions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ NewsDesk, Broadway World.[1] broadwayworld.com, May 26, 2010
  2. ^ Radford, Gerald. [2] rollingout.com, July 10, 2010
  3. ^ Holman, Curt.[3] creativeloafing.com, July 16, 2010
  4. ^ Perrier, Cedric.[4] thehuffingtonpost.com, July 15, 2010
  5. ^ http://www.suziawards.org/page/1039/Current-Winners
  6. ^ https://www.huffingtonpost.com/akoshia-yoba/i-dream_b_11053268.html
  7. ^ http://www.kennedy-center.org/video/index/M59969

External links[edit]