He may not have sought nor did he accept a return to the White House, but Lyndon B. Johnson is coming back to Broadway: The Great Society, a companion play to Robert Schenkkan’s Tony-winning All The Way, will begin performances in September, with Brian Cox as the 36th President of the United States.
Also in the cast will be Richard Thomas, Marc Kudisch and Grantham Coleman (Amazon Studio’s upcoming Against All Enemies) making his Broadway debut as Martin Luther King Jr.
All The Way won the 2014 Tony Award for Best Play and Bryan Cranston took the Tony for his lead role as LBJ. All The Way director Bill Rauch will return in that capacity for The Great Society.
While the earlier play chronicled LBJ’s efforts on behalf of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the new play depicts the tumultuous events building to the conclusion of the Johnson presidency in 1968.
Previews for the 12-week limited engagement begin September 6 at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater. The official opening night was not announced.
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The Great Society will include more than 50 characters in two dozen locations, with Cox (Churchill, HBO’s Succession) leading the way as LBJ, Kudisch (a three-time Tony nominee last seen on Broadway in Finding Neverland) as Richard J. Daley, Coleman as Martin Luther King Jr. and Thomas (a Tony nominee for The Little Foxes who will play Atticus Finch in the planned To Kill A Mockingbird tour) as Hubert Humphrey.
Still to be announced are the actors playing Richard Nixon, Robert F. Kennedy, Coretta Scott King, Lady Bird Johnson, J. Edgar Hoover, George Wallace and Robert McNamara, among others.
Schenkkan, whose The Kentucky Cycle won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, adapted All The Way for HBO in 2016 and was Emmy-nominated for HBO’s The Pacific. Film credits include Hacksaw Ridge and The Quiet American, and he’s currently working on Amazon Pictures’ The Last Airman, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, and Union, starring Joseph Gordon Levitt. Schenkkan also is writing a musical called The Twelve with John Doyle.
Among Rauch’s many stage credits are productions of The Great Society in its 2014 premiere at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and in 2015 at Seattle Rep.
The production’s description of The Great Society: “Capturing Johnson’s passionate and aggressive attempts to build a great society for all, The Great Society follows his epic triumph in a landslide election to the agonizing decision not to run for re-election just three years later. It was an era that would define history forever: the rise of the Civil Rights Movement, the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, the destruction of Vietnam, and the creation of some of the greatest social programs America has ever known – and one man was at the center of it all: LBJ.”
The Broadway design team will include David Korins (sets), Linda Cho (costumes), David Weiner (lights), Paul James Prendergast (composer/sound) and Victoria Sagady (projections).
The Great Society producing team is headed by Jeffrey Richards, Louise Gund, Rebecca Gold, Stephanie P. McClelland, Jayne Baron Sherman, Jacob Soroken Porter and Lincoln Center Theater.
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