Broadway mounts ‘The Mountaintop’ with Jackson, Bassett Broadway mounts ‘The Mountaintop’ with Jackson, Bassett
Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett bring the divine touch of Hollywood to Broadway in “The Mountaintop.” Directed by Kenny Leon, the two-hander opened... Broadway mounts ‘The Mountaintop’ with Jackson, Bassett

Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett bring the divine touch of Hollywood to Broadway in “The Mountaintop.” Directed by Kenny Leon, the two-hander opened October 13 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre for a limited engagement run.

Playwright Katori Hall’s new drama “The Mountaintop” provides a fresh reimagining of the events of April 3, 1968 — the night before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN.

Jackson steps into historical shoes as he portrays the legendary civil rights activist, who has retired to his Memphis motel room for the evening after giving his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech. Bassett co-stars as the mysterious motel maid, Camae, who visits Dr. King’s room to deliver hot coffee, droll banter and a surprising message.

“The Mountaintop” makes its Broadway debut after an impressive overseas run. Hall’s play was awash in critical acclaim on London’s West End, where the production premiered in 2009 and went on to win the Olivier Award for Best New Play.

The drama has completed 24 previews at Jacobs Theatre since September 22. During that time, the production drew an average attendance rate of 85 percent capacity and grossed $1,526,258 in ticket sales. To date, the drama has earned just about 58 percent of its cumulative $2.64 million potential, according to the Broadway League.

Regular ticket prices for the production range from $76.50 to $131.50, including a $1.50 facility fee. Primary ticketing site Telecharge.com also offers premium seats for $176.50 and $301.50.

The one-act play runs 90 minutes without intermission. Evening performances run Tuesday at 7 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Weekly matinees are also staged at 2 p.m. on Wednesday and Saturday, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

The Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre is located at 242 West 45th Street. “The Mountaintop” is a limited engagement, booked through January 15, 2012. More details are available on the play’s official Web site.

Opening Night: “The Mountaintop”

Publication Critic Review
Variety Marilyn Stasio “…a deceptively trite situation that Hall transforms into an emotionally powerful and theatrically stunning moment of truth…”
New York Times Ben Brantley “It’s hard not to feel that ‘The Mountaintop’ might have worked better in a smaller, lower-profile production.”
USA Today Elysa Gardner “The dialogue here can be awkward and obvious, the tone wildly uneven.”
TheaterMania David Finkle “Surprisingly, Jackson has the less showy role, but throughout his thoughtful impersonation, he’s never truly what could be called unshowy.”
The Wall Street Journal Terry Teachout “[Jackson’s] performance here is by turns earthily funny and un-self-consciously dignified.”
New York Magazine Scott Brown “It’s a promising (if more than faintly hokey) setup, and there’s just one problem: It goes absolutely nowhere.”