Robert Schenkkan’s The Great Society, the second part of the playwright's drama about President Lyndon Baines Johnson, will make its Washington, D.C., debut February 2, 2018, at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, following the theatre’s critically acclaimed 2016 run of Schenkkan’s All the Way.
Kyle Donnelly will also direct The Great Society, which chronicles LBJ’s second term as he seeks to maintain his relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and complete a raft of ambitious social policy projects. Performances continue through March 11 on the Fichandler Stage.
Jack Willis, seen at Arena Stage as Johnson in All the Way, will again play the U.S. President with Bowman Wright as Martin Luther King, Jr.
Willis, who originated the role of LBJ at Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2012, will be joined by several cast members from Arena's All the Way, including Desmond Bing as Bob Moses, JaBen Early as Stokely Carmichael, Cameron Folmar as Governor George Wallace, Richmond Hoxie as J. Edgar Hoover, Lawrence Redmond as Hubert Humphrey, Susan Rome as Lady Bird Johnson, John Scherer as Robert F. Kennedy, Stephen F. Schmidt as Senator Everett Dirksen, Craig Wallace as Ralph Abernathy, and Tom Wiggin as Robert McNamara.
Joining the company are Elliott Bales as Adam Walinsky, Deonna Bouye as Coretta Scott King, Gary-Kayi Fletcher as James Bevel, Megan Graves as Pat Nixon, and Andrew Weems as Mayor Richard Daley.
“The Vietnam War provides an intense backdrop for Johnson’s second term and with The Great Society, Robert Schenkkan thrusts us back into the heat of those turbulent days,” said Artistic Director Molly Smith in a statement. “What a thrill it is to welcome back actor Jack Willis as Lyndon Baines Johnson, as well as director Kyle Donnelly to anchor this sequel to the electrifying All the Way.”
“There is a particular photo of LBJ, with his head down on a table in the Situation Room, listening to a tape from a soldier on the field in Vietnam,” added director Donnelly. “The immensity of what he has done and the burden he has carried are profoundly moving. The price he and the country have paid for the insistence of pursuing victory in Vietnam is heartbreaking. Our current political climate does not include accountability as a value, which is even a bigger loss for us all, and makes directing The Great Society at this present time all the more critical.”
The creative team also includes set designer Kate Edmunds, costume designer Nan Cibula-Jenkins, lighting designer Nancy Schertler, composer and sound designer by David Van Tieghem, and projection designer Aaron Rhyne.
Tickets may be purchased online at arenastage.org, by phone at (202) 488-3300 or at the Sales Office at 1101 Sixth St.