All the Way, the new play by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan (The Kentucky Cycle) starring “Breaking Bad”‘s Bryan Cranston in a self-assured Broadway debut as Lyndon B. Johnson, opened on Thursday, March 6, 2014, at The Neil Simon Theatre (250 West 52nd Street) in New York. The play is directed by Bill Rauch, Artistic Director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where All the Way began its theatrical life.
The tight ensemble cast features Eric Lenox Abrams (Bob Moses), Betsy Aidem (Lady Bird Johnson), J. Bernard Calloway (Ralph Abernathy), Rob Campbell (Governor George Wallace), Brandon J. Dirden (Martin Luther King, Jr.), James Eckhouse (Robert McNamara), Peter Jay Fernandez (Roy Wilkins), Christopher Gurr (Senator Strom Thurmond), William Jackson Harper (Stokely Carmichael), Michael McKean (J. Edgar Hoover), John McMartin (Senator Richard Russell), Christopher Liam Moore (Walter Jenkins), Robert Petkoff (Senator Hubert Humphrey), Ethan Phillips (Stanley Levison), Richard Poe (Senator Everett Dirksen), Roslyn Ruff (Coretta Scott King), Susannah Schulman (Lurleen Wallace), Bill Timoney (Senator Karl Mundt) and Steve Vinovich (Rep. Emanuel Celler).
All the Way takes audiences behind the doors of the Oval Office and inside the first year of Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency, his fight to pass a landmark civil rights bill and his relationship with key political figures, including Martin Luther King Jr., J. Edgar Hoover and Senator Richard Russell.
Performances are Tuesday and Thursday at 7pm Wednesday and Friday at 8pm Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are available at at The Neil Simon Theatre Box office (250 West 52nd Street) in New York and are on sale at Ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000.
I attended the opening night performance as a guest of cast member Peter Jay Fernandez and his wife Denise Burse. All of the opening night attendees were spirited to The Restaurants at Rockefeller Center in UBER cars, a co-sponsor with AMC for the All The Way opening night party. Once ensconced at Rockefeller Center, we dined on macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, salmon, whipped sweet potatoes, chili and jalepeno corn bread.
All the Way was commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle and premiered at OSF in 2012. It then went on to play a sold-out and critically acclaimed run at the A.R.T. from September 13-October 12, 2013 starring Cranston. The play was awarded the 2013 inaugural Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History, established through Columbia University in honor of the late Senator Kennedy, honoring new plays or musicals exploring US history and issues of the day.
All the Way is produced by Jeffrey Richards, Louise Gund, Jerry Frankel, Stephanie P. McClelland, Double Gemini Productions, Rebecca Gold, Scott M. Delman, Barbara H. Freitag, Harvey Weinstein, Gene Korf, William Berlind, Luigi Caiola, Gutterman Chernoff, JAM Theatricals, Gabrielle Palitz, Cheryl Wiesenfeld and Will Trice. Set design is by Christopher Acebo, costume design by Deborah M. Dryden, lighting design by Jane Cox, composition and sound design by Paul James Prendergast, video projections by Shawn Sagady, the projection design consultant is Wendall K. Harrington, hair & wig design is by Paul Huntley, and the sound consultant is Peter Fitzgerald. The Dramaturge is Tom Bryant and casting is by Telsey + Company William Cantler, CSA.
The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University is dedicated to expanding the boundaries of theater. Winner of the 2012 and 2013 Tony Awards for Best Musical Revival for its productions of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and Pippin, the A.R.T. is a leading force in the American theater, producing groundbreaking work in Cambridge and beyond. The A.R.T. was founded in 1980 by Robert Brustein, who served as Artistic Director until 2002, when he was succeeded by Robert Woodruff. In 2008, Diane Paulus became the A.R.T.’s Artistic Director. The A.R.T. is the recipient of numerous other awards including the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater, the Pulitzer Prize, and many Elliot Norton and I.R.N.E. Awards. Its recent premiere production of Death and The Powers: The Robots’ Opera was a 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist. During its 33-year history, the A.R.T. has welcomed many major American and international theater artists, presenting a diverse repertoire that includes premieres of American plays, bold reinterpretations of classical texts and provocative new music theater productions. The A.R.T. has performed throughout the U.S. and worldwide in 21 cities in 16 countries on four continents. In association with the renowned Moscow Art Theatre School, the A.R.T. is also a training ground for young artists. The Theater’s artistic staff teaches undergraduate classes in acting, directing, dramatic literature, dramaturgy, voice, and design at Harvard University, providing world-class professional training. Since becoming Artistic Director, Tony Award-winning director Diane Paulus has enhanced the A.R.T.’s core mission to expand the boundaries of theater by continuing to transform the ways in which work is developed, programmed, produced and contextualized, always including the audience as a partner. Productions such as Pippin, The Glass Menagerie, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Sleep No More, The Donkey Show, Gatz, The Blue Flower, and Prometheus Bound have engaged audiences in unique theatrical experiences. The A.R.T.’s club theater, OBERON, which Paulus calls a second stage for the 21st century, has become an incubator for local and emerging artists, and has also attracted national attention for its innovative programming model.
Established in 1935, the Tony Award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival is among the oldest and largest professional regional theatres in the country. Located in Ashland, Oregon, OSF is a cultural and recreational destination for more than 120,000 visitors per year, has a company that numbers more than 550 (including over 100 actors) and an attendance of more than 400,000. As many as nine plays are performed concurrently on three stages. OSF offers a wide-ranging playbill, including Shakespeare, American classics, musicals, contemporary works and world premieres. Plays originating at OSF have gone on to be produced by theatres across the country, including Arena Stage, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Center Theatre Group, Denver Center Theatre Company, Guthrie Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Seattle Repertory Theatre and Yale Repertory Theatre. ALL THE WAY was commissioned through OSF’s American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle, initiated in 2008 to look at moments of change in America’s past. The sequel, THE GREAT SOCIETY, commissioned by and co-produced with Seattle Repertory Theatre, will premiere at OSF in 2014. More information about OSF can be obtained at www.osfashland.org.
Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia recently starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, Lorey Hayes, Marcus Naylor and Phynjuar, and made her jazz vocalist debut in Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz “LADY” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.
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Bryan Cranston, Brandon J. Dirden, Michael McKean, Peter Jay Fernandez, Roslyn Ruff and More Open in Robert Schenkkan’s All the Way at The Neil Simon Theatre on March 6, 2014
Bryan Cranston Makes Broadway Debut in Robert Schenkkan’s All the Way at The Neil Simon Theatre, Opens March 6, 2014
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