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OSF goes to Broadway with 'All the Way'

Bryan Cranston takes on role of LBJ in play Oregon Shakespeare Festival commissioned
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Dryden says it was a challenge designing diverse costumes for this seasonís ěAll the Way,î set in 1964, when men dressed in dark suits. Here actor Jack Willis portrays President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Kenajuan Bentley plays the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Photo courtesy Jenny Graham for jump?Photo courtesy of Jenny Graham
 Posted: 2:00 AM November 29, 2013

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is bound for Broadway.

"All the Way," Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Schenkkan's play about the early months of Lyndon B. Johnson's presidency, opens at the Neil Simon Theatre in New York City on March 6, 2014. OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch will direct, and Bryan Cranston — best known for the lead role in the hit TV series "Breaking Bad" — will play LBJ.

"All the Way" was commissioned by OSF as part of its American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle and premiered at OSF in 2012. The production was directed by Rauch and starred OSF resident actor Jack Willis. This will be the first OSF-commissioned work to be produced on Broadway.

The play won the inaugural Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History last year.

"All the Way" recounts LBJ's political maneuvering to get the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through a hostile Congress while jockeying for the presidential nomination in that election year. The play portrays the distrust of LBJ by civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Abernathy and Stokely Carmichael, as well as dramatizes the standoff between LBJ and J. Edgar Hoover.

"All the Way" had a sold-out run at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Mass., this fall, with Rauch directing and Cranston playing LBJ.

Also reprising their ART roles are Michael McKean as J. Edgar Hoover and Brandon J. Dirden as Martin Luther King, Jr. Christopher Liam Moore from the OSF production plays Walter Jenkins.

The design team from OSF will continue for Broadway, with scenic design by Christopher Acebo, costumes by Deborah Dryden and lighting by Jane Cox. Paul James Prendergast is the sound designer and composer. Shawn Sagady is designing the video projections and is joined by Wendall K. Harrington.

"The space in the Neil Simon is very different," says Rauch. "The seating is almost double that of OSF's Bowmer Theatre, but, ironically, the stage with the proscenium arch is smaller. It means rethinking design elements. Also, Wendall has brought some wonderful new concepts for Shawn's projections."

Schenkkan says there are changes to the play since the OSF run.

"The shape of the play is the same," says Schenkkan. "But there was a revision prior to the ART production, during the run and since. We had a great cast in Ashland and then in Cambridge. New people raise new questions. They made me look at the play differently."

Rehearsals for the Broadway show begin Jan. 14 with previews starting Feb. 10.

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