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This Week on Stage: Samuel L. Jackson makes his Broadway debut

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Joan Marcus

This week’s biggest opening — and best EW review — may belong to the Samuel L. Jackson/Angela Bassett two-hander The Mountaintop, but our critics also saw four other productions in New York and California. Read the highlights from all five reviews below (click on the bolded title for the full write-ups).

Man and Boy: Correspondent Keith Staskiewicz was captivated by Frank Langella’s “towering performance” as a ruthless financier whose crumbling empire forces him to reconcile with his son in this Depression-set Broadway revival. The play itself however, didn’t fully please. “These two characters’ relationship feels underdeveloped,” he writes, giving the production a B+, and adding that the son’s anger hits “with all the force of overcooked spaghetti.”

I’ve Never Been So Happy: This wacky Culver City, Calif., production — it’s a Western featuring a heavy-metal singing mountain lion — won over writer John Young. “[It] feels like the late-night Mountain Dew-fueled creation of some cleaver 12-year-olds,” he writes, “and whether that’s a compliment or a criticism will depend on one’s willingness to adjust to the show’s nonsensical antics. As for me, Happy lassoed my admiration. “ He grades the musical a B+.

The Lyons: Writer Nicky Silver’s new off-Broadway comedy about a family’s reunion at the deathbed of its patriarch earns a B+ from critic Melissa Rose Bernardo. “Silver’s comic sensibility is as blissfully absurd as ever,” she says, “particularly when he’s bounding haphazardly from one unrelated ridiculous subject to another.”

We Live Here: Stage editor Thom Geier found actress Zoe Kazan’s off-Broadway debut as a playwright a promising start, giving the play a B-. “We Live Here announces the arrival of a bold, ambitious voice in theater,” he writes of the occasionally derivative family drama about a New England clan with a mysterious past, “but a voice that is not yet fully her own.”

The Mountaintop:  Samuel L. Jackson’s Broadway debut — playing Martin Luther King on the last night of his life opposite Angela Bassett’s mysterious motel maid — earns an A- from EW critic Lisa Schwarzbaum. She calls Katori Hall’s drama a “bold, uninterrupted 90-minute swing-for-the-fences play … that simultaneously presents King as a real, flawed man — and as a great marker on the road to American equality.”

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