Part of the only fun in a disappointing show is the chance to play casting director. As the the onstage performers struggle, it’s entertaining trying to “make it work” by substituting more exciting actors in your mind’s eye.
I had a little casting game at The Mountaintop, an interesting and ambitious new Broadway play that is seriously underserved by Samuel L. Jackson’s small performance as Martin Luther King, Jr. Broadway economics demand stunt casting, blah blah blah, but this is a role that begs for a stage performer, someone who can command the attention of thousands and put it to use in the forward thrust of a play. It’s MLK after all, a man whose power literally lived in his capacity to project and communicate.
Who would be exciting in Jackson’s role? My pick is Jeffery Wright, an insanely talented actor who always pops up the the most unexpected places. He’s done Restoration Comedy, Kushner, Suzan-Lori Parks, a James Bond movie, and everything in between, all to brilliant effect. Most importantly, he can project something epic, and epic is what The Mountaintop is all about.