March 7th, 2014 | by REBECCA JACOBSON Arts & Books | Posted In: Theater

OSF's Bill Rauch and Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston Have Broadway Debut

Cranston plays Lyndon B. Johnson in Robert Schenkkan's political drama, which was commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

5.197009Bryan Cranston as LBJ - Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva

Bryan Cranston isn’t the only one making his Broadway debut right now.

Bill Rauch, the artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, directs the Breaking Bad star in All the Way, which opened to positive reviews yesterday, March 6. Cranston plays Lyndon B. Johnson in the political drama, which explores how the president cajoled and strong-armed a stubborn Congress into passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The play, by Robert Schenkkan—who won the Pulitzer for The Kentucky Cycle—was commissioned by OSF and had its premiere, sans Cranston, in Ashland last year. It’s the first OSF commission to hit Broadway.

In his review for The New York Times, Charles Isherwood says Cranston delivers a “heat-generating performance.” “With his wide mouth often agape in a devouring, almost sinister smile, Mr. Cranston’s Johnson often looks like a snake rising threateningly above a mouse as he prepares to make a meal of it,” he writes. Rauch, Isherwood says, has directed the production “solidly if a little stolidly.”

The Washington Post describes Cranston as "effortlessly captivating." Rauch’s direction might be a “civics-class approach,” but one that compels you “to reflect on the current paralytic condition of Washington.” (Variety, meanwhile, suggests taking up a collection to "send every one of those clowns in Congress" to the show.) 

All the Way is the first of Schenkkan’s two plays about LBJ. The second, The Great Society, debuts at OSF this summer.

For an updating list of reviews, head to Broadway World.

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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