Robert Schenkkan's The Great Society, Reuniting Original OSF Cast of All The Way, Opens

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27 Jul 2014

Robert Schenkkan
Robert Schenkkan
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The Great Society, the next play in Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Schenkkan's works exploring the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, opens July 27 in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Angus Bowmer Theatre.

Commissioned by and co-produced with Seattle Repertory Theatre and developed through OSF's American Revolutions: The United States History Cycle and the Orchard Project, The Great Society continues performances through Nov. 1.

The cast features many of the same actors who created the roles in OSF's 2012 world-premiere production of All The Way.

Jack Willis returns to play LBJ, and Kenajuan Bentley reprises his role as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Also returning are Peter Frechette as Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Richard Elmore as J. Edgar Hoover, Wayne T. Carr as Stokely Carmichael and John Lewis, Jonathan Haugen as Gov. George Wallace and Richard Nixon, Kevin Kenerly as Bob Moses and Hosea Willams, Terri McMahon as Lady Bird Johnson, Mark Murphey as Robert McNamara and Wilbur Mills, and Tyrone Wilson as Adam Clayton Powell and Ralph Abernathy.

Joining the cast are Danforth Comins as Sen. Bobby Kennedy, Michael J. Hume as Everett Dirksen and "Deke" DeLoach, Rachael Warren as Muriel Humphrey and Pat Nixon, Tobie Windham as James Bevel and Jimmie Lee Jackson, and Rex Young as Adam Walinsky and General William Westmoreland.



"The Great Society continues the vivid dramatization of President Lyndon B. Johnson's presidency," press notes state. "In the years from 1965 to 1968, LBJ struggles to fight a 'war on poverty' even as his war in Vietnam spins out of control. Besieged by political opponents, Johnson marshals all his political wiles to try to pass some of the most important social programs in U.S. history while the country descends into chaos over the war and backlash against civil rights."

"The entire OSF company of artists, artisans and administrators is eager to share Part 2 in the LBJ cycle with our audiences beginning this summer," OSF artistic director Bill Rauch said in a previous statement. "The events of LBJ's 'legitimate term' are hugely dramatic, and we have a brilliant creative team and group of actors to interpret Robert Schenkkan's important new American play. We are so grateful to our colleagues at Seattle Rep for commissioning The Great Society and for co-producing this world premiere with us, and we look forward to sharing both LBJ plays with Seattle audiences this fall."

The Broadway production of All The Way began previews Feb. 10 at the Neil Simon Theatre. The production officially opened to strong reviews March 6, directed by Bill Rauch. The production grossed a record-breaking $1,425,001 for the week ending June 22, the highest amount ever generated by a straight play in one eight-performance week in the history of Broadway. The production closed June 29.

Read critics' reviews of All The Way here

All The Way won the 2014 Tony Award for Best Play, and star Bryan Cranston won the Tony for Best Actor in a Play.

Read the Playbill feature: Mr. White Goes to Washington: Bryan Cranston Trades "Breaking Bad" for Broadway.

Also returning are members of the original 2012 OSF design team for All The Way: OSF associate artistic director Christopher Acebo (set design), Deborah M. Dryden (costume design), Paul James Prendergast (composition and sound design), Shawn Sagady (video projections), Tom Bryant (dramaturg), Rebecca Clark Carey (voice & text director), U. Jonathan Toppo (fight director) and D. Christian Bolender (stage manager). Joining the creative team is David Weiner (lighting designer).

Following the close of The Great Society, the production will tour to Seattle Repertory Theatre, where both All The Way and The Great Society will perform in repertory November 2014-January 2015. Bill Rauch will direct.

Visit osfashland.org for more information.