When Broadway audiences last saw President Lyndon B. Johnson, he was wheeling and dealing to pass the Civil Rights Act in Robert Schenkkan’s Tony Award–winning Best Play All The Way, starring Bryan Cranston as the controversial President. Come September 6, audiences will get the next chapter in LBJ history, this time with Emmy winner Brian Cox in the Oval Office.
But director Bill Rauch says not to worry if you missed All The Way. “The Great Society is its own play,” he says. “I think there’s a little extra pleasure for people who saw All The Way, but this play stands on its own.
“It opens with LBJ’s landslide victory in the ’64 election and he is enacting the most thrilling, progressive agenda he possibly can,” Rauch continues. The new production officially opens October 1 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater for a limited engagement run through November 30.
The cast of 19 portrays over 50 characters—from Martin Luther King Jr. to Lady Bird Johnson to Pat Nixon—in the political thriller that captures LBJ’s pursuit of what he called “The Great Society,” and what became his legacy’s downfall with Vietnam.
Playwright Schenkkan compares it to “an American political Games of Thrones.”
“He’s such an operator, LBJ, ” says Cox. “He cajoles, seduces, bonds, blackmails, he does the whole bit in order to get people on board for the society of The Great Society.”
Watch the video above for more from the cast and creative team.