Bryan Cranston Coming To A.R.T.

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Bryan Cranston, the Emmy-winning star of "Breaking Bad," will be coming to the American Repertory Theater to play another character who knew a thing or two about moral ambiguity, Lyndon Johnson. He'll be starring in Robert Schenkkan's "All The Way, which will open the Cambridge theater's 2013-14 season with preview performances beginning Sept. 13. Also in the cast are Michael McKean and Reed Birney.

The theater also announced today that William Russo will be joining the theater as managing director (sort of the chief financial officer). He currently has that post at New York Theatre Workshop.

The run of "All The Way" at A.R.T. will coincide with the conclusion of the fifth and final season of "Breaking Bad," believed by many (including me) to be the best program on television for its detailed exploration of a cancer victim's metamorphosis from a high-school science teacher into a world of drug-dealing and murder, all in the name (in his mind) of supporting his family.

"All The Way" already has an acclaimed pedigree of its own. It was recently awarded the 2013 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Assn. New Play Award, and the inaugural Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History.


Here is the A.R.T. announcement.

Cambridge, MA — The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University is pleased to announce that three-time Emmy Award-winning actor Bryan Cranston will play the lead role of Lyndon Baines Johnson in Robert Schenkkan’s new play All The Way opening the A.R.T.’s 2013-14 Season at the Loeb DramaCenter. The production, directed by Bill Rauch, will begin performances on September 13, 2013.

Cranston will be joined by 2013 Lucille Lortel Award nominee Brandon J. Dirden (The Piano Lesson off-Broadway, Enron on Broadway) in the role of Martin Luther King, Jr. They will lead an ensemble cast, each playing multiple roles, including Drama Desk Award winner Michael McKean (The Homecoming and Superior Donuts on Broadway; A Mighty Wind, This is Spinal Tap) as J. Edgar Hoover; Obie Award winner ReedBirney (Picnic on Broadway, Blasted Off-Broadway; “Gossip Girl”) as Hubert Humphrey; Dakin Matthews (Gore Vidal’s The Best Man and Henry IV on Broadway; Lincoln) as Richard Russell; Arnie Burton (Peter and The Starcatcher and The 39 Steps on Broadway) as Robert McNamara; Crystal Dickinson (Clybourne Park on Broadway) as Coretta Scott King; Betsy Aidem (Nikolai and the Others Off-Broadway; “The Americans”) as Lady Bird Johnson; Eric Lenox Abrams (The Piano Lesson Off-Broadway; “Boardwalk Empire”) as Bob Moses; Peter Jay Fernandez (Cyrano de Bergerac and Macbeth on Broadway; “House of Cards,” “The Good Wife”) as Roy Wilkins; Marianne Hagan (Mercy Off-Broadway; “Friends,” “Third Watch”) as Lurleen Wallace; William Jackson Harper (Titus Andronicus, and The Total Bent Off-Broadway; “The Electric Company”) as Stokely Carmichael; Christopher Liam Moore (All The Way at OSF; “10 Items or Less”) as Walter Jenkins; and Ethan Phillips (November and My Favorite Year on Broadway; The Island, Green Card) as Stanley Levison.

1963. An assassin’s bullet catapults Lyndon B. Johnson into the presidency.
A Shakespearean figure of towering ambition and appetite, the charismatic, conflicted Texan hurls himself intoCivil Rights legislation, throwing the country into turmoil. Alternately bullying and beguiling, he enacts major social programs, faces down opponents and wins the 1964 election in a landslide. But in faraway Vietnam, a troublesome conflict looms. In the Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright’s vivid dramatization of LBJ’s first year in office, means versus ends play out on a broad stage canvas as politicians and civil rights leaders plot strategy and wage war. A searing, enthralling exploration of the morality of Power.

All the Way was recently awarded the 2013 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, and the inaugural Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History. It was commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF)’s American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle and premiered at OSF in 2012.

About the principal cast members:

Bryan Cranston (LBJ) is best known for his role of Walter White in the award-winning series "Breaking Bad," which earned him three consecutive Emmy Awards and a Screen Actors Guild award. He won a second Screen Actors Guild award this year for his co-starring role as CIA operative Jack O'Donnell in the 2012 Oscar-winning Best Picture, Argo. He is currently inproduction on Legendary Pictures remake of Godzilla. His other film credits include Drive,Total Recall, Little Miss Sunshine, and Saving Private Ryan, among others. For six seasons he played Hal in the sitcom"Malcom in the Middle" which earned him several Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. His other television credits include the recurring role of Dr.Whatley on "Seinfeld," and the astronaut Buzz Aldrin in the HBO miniseries "From the Earth to the Moon." His theater credits include Sam Shepard's play The God of Hell at the Geffen Playhouse, Chapter Two, The Taming of the Shrew, A Doll's House, Eastern Standard, Wrestlers, Barefoot in the Park, and The Steven Weed Show, for which he won a Drama-Logue Award.

Michael McKean (J. Edgar Hoover) was recently seen in New York in Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, as well as in King Lear, Our Town, Superior Donuts, The Homecoming, The Pajama Game, A Second Hand Memory, and Hairspray. His films include This is Spinal Tap,Clue, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, Whatever Works, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. He received a Grammy Award for the title song of A Mighty Wind, written with Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy; and an Oscar nomination for Best Song for A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow, written with Annette O’Toole. He is the first million-dollar Celebrity Jeopardy champion, and appeared on the Loeb Stage in several productions in the 1960s.

Brandon J. Dirden (Martin Luther King, Jr.) was recently seen in Enron and Clybourne Park on Broadway and Off-Broadway in The Piano Lesson, Peter and the Starcatcher, and Bottom of the World, among others. His regional credits include Fences at the Huntington Theatre and South Coast Rep., Othello, Twelfth Night, and Metamorphoses at Georgia Shakespeare, and Julius Caesar and As You Like It at North Carolina Shakespeare. He was seen on television in “The Big C” and “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.”

Reed Birney (Hubert Humphrey) received a 2006 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Performance. He was recently seen in Circle Mirror Transformation (Obie and Drama Desk Awards) at Playwrights Horizons, Stuff Happens (Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble) at the Public Theater, The Family of Man at Second Stage, and Bug at Barrow Street, among others. His television credits include “House of Cards,” “The Good Wife,” “Gossip Girl,” and recurring roles on “Law & Order.”

About the Creative Team:

Robert Schenkkan is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of eleven plays, two musicals and a collection of short plays. The Kentucky Cycle (Pulitzer Prize, LA Drama Critics Award and Penn Award) was produced on Broadway where it was nominated for the Tony, Drama Desk, and the Outer Critics’ Circle Awards. His other plays include, A Single Shard, By the Waters of Babylon, Handler, Lewis and Clark Reach the Euphrates, The Marriage of Miss Hollywood and King Neptune, The Devil and Daniel Webster, Heaven on Earth, Tachinoki, Final Passages, and The Dream Thief. He is the co-author of the film, The Quiet American. His film, Hacksaw Ridge, is currently in pre-production to be directed by Randall Wallace later this year. For television he wrote on the HBO miniseries The Pacific, produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, and was nominated for two Emmys and won a WGA Award. He also wrote the miniseries: The Andromeda Strain, Crazy Horse, and Spartacus. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Ensemble Studio Theater and an alumnus of New Dramatists.

Bill Rauch is the Artistic Director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Having spenteleven seasons as director, he has directed three world premieres: Mr. Schenkkan’s All the Way and By the Waters of Babylon, and Bill Cain’s Equivocation; and thirteen other plays including Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella, Measure for Measure, The Pirates of Penzance, Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, The Music Man, Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Comedy ofErrors, Hedda Gabler, and Handler. Among his initiatives at OSF, Mr. Rauch committed to commissioning up to 37 new plays to dramatize moments of change in American history. American Revolutions: the U.S. History Cycle is now in its fourth year of productions. Mr. Rauch is also cofounder of Cornerstone Theater Company, where he directed more than 40 productions and served as its artistic director from 1986 to 2006. He has directed a number of world premieres, including The Clean House at Yale Repertory Theatre; Living Out and For Here or To Go? at the Mark Taper Forum; and My Wandering Boy and The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler at South Coast Repertory. He also directed the New York premiere of The Clean House at the Lincoln Center. Work elsewhere includes productions at South Coast Repertory, Guthrie Theater, Arena Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, Great Lakes Theater Festival and En Garde Arts. He is the recipient of numerous awards, and is a graduate of Harvard College.

Tickets to All The Way will be available with subscription purchases in May.
Single tickets will be available in July.

This program aired on April 22, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

Ed Siegel Twitter Critic-At-Large
Now retired and contributing as a critic-at-large, Ed Siegel was the editor of The ARTery.