All The Way Previews

WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/10/14 at 11:55pm
I saw the first preview of All The Way this evening and liked it a lot without completely committing to loving it. There are two things everyone will be talking about after seeing this play: Bryan Cranston and the over three hour run time.

Each act feels like it could be its own play with both halves containing fully developed character and plot arcs. They felt more like parts one and two of a six part mini-series rather than a finished play, and despite the length I felt cheated out of parts three through six. Maybe Shenkkan could adapt the piece for HBO and give us the entire administration.

Act one was like 1776, except instead of the Declaration of Independence they're trying to pass the Civil Rights Act. Even the one piece evoked memories of every production of 1776 that I've ever seen. Act two dealt with the '64 election and Johnson's rivalry with Barry Goldwater. It also prominently featured MLK Jr and the civil rights movement taking place in Alabama and Mississippi. We all know the endings to these plots, so the drama must be found elsewhere. Like John Adams before him, LBJ must carry this weight and luckily Bryan Cranston is more than up to the task.

Judging by the audience response most people were there to see Cranston, and he really delivered. It's a towering performance that fills the entire Neil Simon. The rest of the cast is a parade of stars, perhaps not seen since A Free Man of Color a few years ago. Whereas that play was a little too ambitious for its own good and didn't know how to balance the dozens of storylines it attempted to tell, All The Way manages to keep everything clear and easy to follow, even with all that is going on.

Michael McKean did nice work as J. Edgar Hoover and Roslyn Ruff was very moving as Fannie Lou Hamer.

If you're a history nerd or a Cranston fan then this is unmissable.
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
JakeJake
Swing
joined:5/7/11
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/11/14 at 12:02am
This show = misery ... Sadly. Cranston = Genius. Why would he let this happen. No. No. No.
theatreguy
Broadway Legend
joined:7/31/03
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/11/14 at 12:32am
With the regards to the incomplete mini-series feeling, Schenkkan actually has written "part two." It's called The Great Society and is being done at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this summer with the same director and designers who did All the Way.

http://osfashland.org/productions/2014-plays/the-great-society.aspx
jas1234
Understudy
joined:9/3/11
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/11/14 at 12:34am
One of the most absorbing and exciting evenings I've seen in the theatre this year. Bryan Cranston is unforgettable as LBJ but the whole cast is terrific. Sure it's slightly overlong, but I'm sure there will be some editing during the preview period. The events of 1964, an extraordinary year in American politics, are vividly captured. A special shout out to the wonderful projections that enhance the production.
sowren1020
Stand-by
joined:3/15/10
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/11/14 at 12:49am
ALL THE WAY was a great night of theatre for myself, my niece and friend. It was interesting to see how a 23 year old saw the play and processed parts of history that I lived through that she has only heard about.

Bryan Cranston does a fabulous job, he does a real interpretation not impersonation. His arc and passion carry the storyline in getting a Civil Rights Bill passed is a great race and doesn't feel like a history lesson. There was also a lot of humor in the piece in LBJ's crass and sexist attitudes which seem almost shocking today but the behind the scenes horse trading, unfortunately, does not seem that shocking. Michael McKean as Hoover is smugly menacing, Brandon Dirden is smooth and laid back as Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Petkoff is vulnerable as Hubert Hoover, providing a great counterpoint to LBJ. John McMartin seemed to have his arm in a sling but still delivered a barbed and complex portrayal as Richard Russell with some great repartee with LBJ.

The play really took off when LBJ started to teach Humphrey the ins and outs in trying to get bills passed through the House and Senate. The set and projections on the back scrim helped illustrate the massive scope of scene and story that is told. Bill Rauch did a good job staging the 20 actors and getting Cranston to give a nuanced performance, it did not feel like three hours to us. There were a few performers we had problems hearing or understanding and the last montage of speeches between Hoover, King and LBJ seemed unfocused and messy, not sure why Robert Schenkkan tied up the plot with that sequence. That's just a small quibble, as we enjoyed the production very much. Highly recommend seeing this!
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/11/14 at 06:57am
Thanks for the link, theatreguy. I assume there will be a part three as well, and I'm sure we'll get some master production with all the parts playing in rep sometime.

The stuff I found the most interesting was watching the Republicans and Democrats slowly morph into what we know them to be today. I never realized how responsible LBJ's presidency was for that.
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
dreaming
Broadway Legend
joined:4/24/09
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/11/14 at 11:04am
Is there a rush policy in place yet? I stopped by the theater to inquire and they said they thought there would be but it wasn't up and running yet (this was a week or so ago).
ClydeBarrow
Broadway Legend
joined:6/20/12
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/11/14 at 11:09am
Student Tickets
Tickets are available for $35 and can be purchased in
advance at http://www.tix4students.com.
Open only to current college/university students.
2 tickets per ID.
Broadway for Broke People
"Pardon my prior Mcfee slip. I know how to spell her name. I just don't know how to type it." -Talulah
A Director
Broadway Star
joined:12/18/07
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/11/14 at 12:30pm
The time period for "The Great Society" is 1965 to 1968. It ends with LBJ deciding not to run again. I doubt there will be a third play.
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/11/14 at 01:27pm
Oops! Didn't read that closely. Since this first installment covered less than a year of time I wrongly assumed part two would move at the same pace!
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
sowren1020
Stand-by
joined:3/15/10
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/11/14 at 04:32pm
Here is a discount code until March 13th I believe. Be sure to enter the code in the in the yellow tab where it says "Got an offer Code", use NED1 to find the cheapest seats once you pick a date. There were some seats for $49 in the upper mezzanine.

http://www.ticketmaster.com/All-the-Way-tickets/artist/1939314?tm_link=edp_Artist_Name





Updated On: 2/11/14 at 04:32 PM
RippedMan
Broadway Legend
joined:8/14/05
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/12/14 at 12:19am
How's the design for this? is it a "grand" piece of theater? Does it fill that big theater?
theatreguy
Broadway Legend
joined:7/31/03
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/12/14 at 12:42am
Here's pictures of the set design:

http://www.christopheracebodesign.com/christopheracebodesign.com/portfolio/Pages/All_the_Way.html#grid

It's been changed a bit because the Neil Simon stage isn't as large as those at OSF or ART, but it gives you an idea.
RippedMan
Broadway Legend
joined:8/14/05
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/12/14 at 12:53am
Aw cool! Thanks for the link! Love his designs.
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/12/14 at 07:49am
The set really works because of the large screen that the projections are displayed on. My knee jerk reaction to hearing about a lot of projections is to groan, but then you see a production like this where they are employed tastefully and effectively and my faith in the technique is restored.
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
iluvtheatertrash
Broadway Legend
joined:11/9/04
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/12/14 at 09:02am
If anyone has any luck purchasing a rush ticket AT the theatre, please let me know! Thank you. (And please also let us know if we can purchase them at the theatre in advance, too!)
"I know now that theatre saved my life." - Susan Stroman
jeffmiele
Broadway Star
joined:11/6/07
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/13/14 at 12:01am
I'll be the one to ask... Is the stage door a mad house?
sowren1020
Stand-by
joined:3/15/10
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/13/14 at 02:13pm
Yes. There is a very short walk they've gated off from the stage door to his car and the street is nuts. He is stopping and saying hello to people, but in the freezing cold weather after a 3 hour show in previews, you can believe it is very few people he can actually chat up or sign things for. If you want to cheer him on or look at him, that seems doable. The two nights I was walking by when I didn't go to the show it looked slightly on par with the Orlando Bloom post R&J crowd the night I went, but that was without a snowstorm.
dreaming
Broadway Legend
joined:4/24/09
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/14/14 at 10:22am
Saw it last night from the front mezz. Bryan Cranston gives an incredible performance as Lyndon Johnson. The supporting cast-particularly Robert Petkoff as Hubert Humphries and Michael McKean as J.Edgar Hoover were also very strong.

As to the play, act one dragged a little (it could use a little better pacing or something). However, act two was pretty engrossing. (It seems like it loses momentum when Cranston is not on stage.)

I loved it overall and appreciate its relevance in our current political situation.
ryankon
Swing
joined:9/6/11
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/14/14 at 08:43pm
As everyone has said, Cranston is indeed terrific. But i agree with earlier posters who had reservations: it's not a great play. It's not even a very good play. It's solid. The subject matter is interesting but it's long, over written and tedious at times with not enough dramatic propulsion. Compelling subject matter made obvious and a bit boring(I saw a few folks sleeping). Production values excellent and Cranston genuinely wonderful. In spite of my reservations I'd recommend it to anyone who's a fan of great acting.
iluvtheatertrash
Broadway Legend
joined:11/9/04
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/15/14 at 04:56pm
Cranston is wonderful in a very tedious bore of a play. Christ, it's long.... I couldn't recommend it to people, not unless they are dead set on seeing Cranston on stage.
"I know now that theatre saved my life." - Susan Stroman
DMC_Patinkin
Understudy
joined:5/6/13
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/17/14 at 11:11pm
I personally hated this play (except Cranston who was brilliant).

I had to leave after the first act because my family just couldn't take it (They are not theatre people so they were even less happy).

I was thoroughly disappointed and now understand why most celebrities choose big name shows
Let me be your star, now wouldn't that be lovely?
jaxandmci
Stand-by
joined:8/1/11
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/18/14 at 11:13am
Saw it Sunday night and it clocked in at 2:50. A wonderful night of theatre with an outstanding cast led by the brilliant Cranston (and I've yet to see an episode of Breaking Bad). I hope he's moisturizing well because that constant scrunching of all of his facial muscles has the potential to etch some deep ruts into his face.

If you are not intrigued by history and the game of politics, this may not be for you. Then again, I don't consider myself an avid fan of either and still found watching all the behind-the-scenes machinations of getting the Civil Rights Act passed utterly fascinating.
jas1234
Understudy
joined:9/3/11
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/18/14 at 12:26pm
Agree with that assessment. Saw it earlier in the engagement and intend to revisit it.
The length of the play didn't bother me (there is so much material that could be used) but I did think that some of the performances could be sharper. However, I was particularly impressed with Brandon Dirden as Martin Luther King and the oily unctiousness conveyed by Michael McKean as J. Edgar Hoover. The play may not receive a Tony Award nomination (though I think it deserves to in a very sparse field) but I do think thatBryan Cranston will be recognized with a nomination for his dynamic performance. Overall felt the direction was quite good by Bill Rauch, who I had never heard of before. It's amazing to me that so much of what was going on back then
(i.e. surveillance) is so prominent in today's concerns re government.
steveshack
Leading Actor
joined:8/21/04
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/18/14 at 12:47pm

A stunning, masterful performance in an intricate large cast play about the machinations of getting civil rights legislation passed, while simultaneously trying to get nominated and then elected to his first actual term in office after JFK's death. Cranston disappears into the bombastic, profane, warrior persona of LBJ completely and naturally.

It's also a concise and illuminating history lesson by the playwright, Robert Shenkkan. Balancing many simultaneous stories, the writing was crystal clear and easy to follow as it bounced back and forth between Washington and Missisippi.

MLK (Brandon J. Dirdan, calmly convincing) fights to hang on, squeezed between radical young Blacks and the establishment NAACP, getting backstabbed by Johnson and eventually demanding blacks be seated at the Democratic Convention to represent Mississippi. Also, lurking around the edges is J. Edgar Hoover, in a very realistic, non-winking and yet comical without being camp performance by Michael McKean, taping everyone and trying to forward his own power agenda.

People warned me that play was long, but it seemed to fly by, and I felt as energized at the ending as I did when I walked in. It also reminded me of 1776 in that we knew the historical outcome, but were kept hanging in suspense wondering how the election was going to turn out, as he kept losing points the South.(Spoiler: LBJ wins.)

The whole company is richly human and believable, down to the last small part, and Bill Rauch's direction was imaginative and smart in its use of the design elements, sometimes allowing three scenes in three locations to happen at once, without losing any momentum or focus in the narrative.

And also an effective use of onstage actors sitting in what could be a jury or a choir loft or a committee meeting room, with LBJ's big roller chair front and center.

The play also makes a larger point, quoted by LBJ about politics: That politics is not "war by another means. It's just war."

Having personally participated in a non-violent resistance march against the hatemongering of Jerry Falwell, I was especially drawn to the arguments in the MLK camp, as their anger pushed them to rebel against the use of "love and non-violence" and to get into the streets with fists.

LBJ didn't just play. He played to win. Cranston stomps and storms and cuddles and coos and threatens and rails and laughs -- so much bull-bodied laughing in this play from the audience and from the actor.

And if a little bit of Walter White crept in around the edges in moments, it was only deepened rather than detracted from the character because people addicted to power play by a set rules that the rest of us avoid, and the central one is ruthlessness.
WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
All The Way Previews
Posted: 2/19/14 at 07:04pm
I enjoyed it...a lot more than I was expecting to. It's nowhere near great, it does feel disjointed, and for clocking in at 2 hours and 50 minutes, the resolution kinda comes out of nowhere. I also felt oddly shortchanged as far as dramatic heft and a really strong character study go, but I was mostly entertained. Cranston is giving a performance that defines "tour de force." He's just brilliant, there's really no other word for it. There's one scene in the second act where he is finally able to show a more emotional side to the character, as he talks about his parents, and it's just fascinating to watch Cranston navigate this hard-ass character through this fleeting moment of succumbing to his emotions and feelings. He has some great assistance in the form of his castmates as well. Brandon J. Dirden and Roslyn Ruff, in particular, are wonderful. Robert Petkoff has a few moments where he veers a bit too closely into the "overacting" territory, but mostly he's excellent as well.

The set is utilized quite nicely, as are the projections on the back wall. I'm on the fence about the direction for this one; the use of the aisles and having the characters walk through the audience felt forced and unnecessary. It distracted me more than anything. The play itself is ambitious to a fault; it's overstuffed (with characters, with history, with exposition, etc) and at times it definitely feels like it's more suited for an HBO movie or miniseries. At the same time, it feels like a sliver of a history lesson, not necessarily a piece of wholly compelling drama. I found the first act to be more involving and consistent than the second. But there are quite a few moments that work really well, and as I mentioned, Cranston's performance elevates the whole thing. If you love politics, I imagine you'll enjoy the show . That said, I appreciated that it was still accessible to someone who may not completely understand the ins and outs of politics as well, without dumbing anything down.
Current Avatar: Tony-winner Idina Menzel, delivering a sucker-punch of an 11:00 number, "Always Starting Over," in IF/THEN.
Updated On: 2/20/14 at 07:04 PM

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