Written by Ashley Mahoney for The Charlotte Post

Opera Carolina is going back to the candy store.

Douglas Tappin’s “I Dream” was dubbed the candy store of opera during its Charlotte debut in 2018. Demand for its return was so high that Opera Carolina decided to conclude their 71st season with the production. However, multiple changes accompany Tappin’s rhythm and blues of the final 36 hours of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. The show will take place at Belk Theater, rather than Knight Theater. It takes place April 19, 23 and 25.

“It was a big success in May 2018,” said Opera Carolina’s Artistic Director Maestro James Meena. “More than 80 percent of the audience said they wanted to see the piece within two years. We looked at scheduling, and decided not to wait, but to bring it back straight away in April of 2020, and really leverage that energy and that enthusiasm.”

Derrick Davis returns in the role as Martin Luther King Jr. However, Laquita Mitchell will not return as Coretta Scott King as she is not available. Alyson Cambridge, who recently portrayed Carmen for Opera Carolina, will step into the role. Ralph Abernathy will still be played by Kenneth Overton and Victor Ryan Robertson returns as Hosea Williams.

“That gives us a very strong cast,” Meena said. “Anyone who saw our ‘Carmen’ knows that Alyson is a terrific singing actress. We’re in good shape so far with the changes we’re making.”

While the story itself remains the same, a few scenes will look different.

“We wanted to change the ending of Act I,” Meena said. “In an earlier version that we had been working on, Act I ended on a very uplifting tone, after the court decision in Montgomery about busing. The new version just keeps building from that high point to the end of Act I, as opposed to the version that we originally performed where it was more about Martin and Ralph pledging to keep going on the fight. It was a very different mood. It was beautiful, but I felt that it was important to end Act I on that high note, because Act II then becomes much more serious, and much more introspective.”

Another scene change includes that of Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks.

“We want to explore the idea of community and family more,” Meena said. “It was kind of there, but it wasn’t as powerful as we think we can make it. Those are two big changes we will be making to Act I that we hope makes that whole narrative much more interesting for everyone.”