Do It…Go, All the Way…

o-ALL-THE-WAY-facebook

I went All The Way with Bryan Cranston and it was amazing.

Seriously, the Golden Globe and Emmy award winning star of, Breaking Bad, gave a tour de force in his Broadway debut which just earned him a Tony for Best Actor in a Play…run to see this limited engagement at the Neil Simon Theatre on West 52nd Street in NYC.

Since its March 6th opening the show has been a box-office hit. For the week ending June 8th,  it took in $940,550, making it the second-highest-grossing play behind the revival of, A Raisin in the Sun.

Although the Tony Award Best Play winner, All the Way, is set to end its limited run on June 29, it may have an afterlife. Deadline.com reported that Steven Spielberg wants Mr. Cranston to reprise his role in a TV miniseries version of the play.

Cranston gives an electrifying performance as LBJ, one of the most controversial and dynamic  statesmen and presidents of our time.

Bryan Cranston,
Bryan Cranston, Robert Petkoff

The gripping and suspenseful drama from Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Robert Schenkkan, features a company of 20 terrific stage actors portraying Martin Luther King, Jr., Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, Lady Bird Johnson, Governor George Wallace and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, to name a few.

The play takes place in 1964, a pivotal year in America. A landmark Civil Rights Bill was passed and the U.S. began its’ involvement in Vietnam.

1.167662

It is an absorbing drama, set during the tense first year of Johnson’s presidency following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Johnson is in constant motion…slapping backs, bestowing benevolent smiles on loyal friends, glowering and growling angrily at enemies.

LBJ plays the part of hero, bully, statesman and major manipulator…whatever it took to right the wrongs and make America the Great Society, again. It wasn’t personal (most of the time) for LBJ, it was just politics and playing the game to assure victory.

Among the more substantial performances are those of John McMartin, as Senator Richard Russell watching in dignified dismay as he sees the Southern Democrats’ ability to block any  civil rights bill slipping away and Brandon J. Dirden, as Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., caught between the conservative and more radical organizations fighting to keep voting rights for all Americans included in the bill.

Robert Petkoff portrays Humphrey, whom Johnson chides behind his back even as he dangles the promise of the vice presidency to keep him working the Congress to keep them on team LBJ.

Michael McKean as J. Edgar Hoover
Michael McKean as J. Edgar Hoover

J. Edgar Hoover, a despicable Michael McKean, skulks around the edges of the play as we eavesdrop on him eavesdropping on Dr. King.

Rob Campbell plays the Alabama governor, George Wallace, whom Johnson sees as his primary foe in seeking the Democratic nomination.

All the Way is directed by Bill Rauch who staged the premiere of the play in 2012 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where he serves as artistic director.

Realistic and impressive set design is by Christopher Acebo with costume design by Deborah M. Dryden, lighting design by Jane Cox, original music and sound design by Paul James Pendergast and video projections by Shawn Sagady.

I haven’t seen a play this riveting since August: Osage County. All the Way is a must see. It is beyond fabulous. Too bad history isn’t taught in school like this.

All the Way, Neil Simon Theatre 250 West 52nd Street. Running time: 3 hours. Runs Tuesday through Sunday with matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*