Will Lyndon B. Johnson Dramas Play Broadway?
By Michael Gioia
Two plays by different authors about Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th President of the United States, entitled All the Way and Great Society, are in development and aiming for a Broadway bow, according to the New York Times.
Robert Schenkkan's drama All the Way, about the first year of Johnson's presidency, will begin performances in September at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA — the theatre company that recently transferred the Tony Award-winning musicals The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess and Pippin.
Three-time Emmy Award winner Bryan Cranston, known for his work on television's "Breaking Bad" and "Malcolm in the Middle" as well as the 2012 film "Argo," will play Johnson in All the Way, which won the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History in February. Also in the cast are Brandon J. Dirden (The Piano Lesson Off-Broadway) as Martin Luther King, Jr., Michael McKean (The Best Man) as J. Edgar Hoover and Reed Birney ("House of Cards") as Hubert Humphrey.
Bill Rauch will direct the piece that runs Sept. 13-Oct. 12.
According to the Times, producers such as Jeffrey Richards, who was the lead producer on Porgy and Bess and the upcoming Glass Menagerie, are interested in a transfer to Broadway.
For more information, visit AmericanRepertoryTheater.org.
Alexander Harrington's The Great Society, which covers the Johnson administration from November 1963-March 1968, will run Aug. 3-24 Off-Broadway at the Clurman Theater. Producer Albert Podell, who presents the work with The York Shakespeare Company, is determined to move the play to Broadway.
Directed by Seth Duerr, the four-week engagement will open Aug. 8 with a cast that includes Mitch Tebo (Classic Stage Company's The Revenger's Tragedy, The Dumb Waiter) as Lyndon Johnson, Elena McGhee ("Blue Bloods") as Lady Bird Johnson, Yaakov Sullivan as Richard Russell, James Lurie ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") as J. William Fulbright, Curtis Wiley (The Lion King national tour) as Martin Luther King, Jr., Charles Gray (The Color Purple, Grease) as Bayard Rustin, Reed Armstrong as Robert McNamara, Charles F. Wagner IV as Hubert Humphrey and Seymore Trammell, Robert Ierardi as Everett Dirksen and Nicholas Katzenbach, Jeff Burchfield as Strom Thurmond and George Wallace, and Mac Brydon as Jack Valenti and Wayne Morse.
The production features scenic design by Michael Minahan, costume design by Sean Sullivan, lighting design by Dana Sterling and props design by Preesa Adeline Bullington. John D. Ivy is the composer and sound designer, and Kristine Schlachter is the production stage manager.
For more information, visit YorkShakespeare.org.
Schenkkan is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Kentucky Cycle. Harrington has written and directed various adaptations, including Fyodor Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov," which was produced in two parts. Part I was co-produced by Harrington's Eleventh Hour Theatre Company and The Culture Project, and Part II was co-produced by La MaMa and The Eleventh Hour.
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