This week Bryan Cranston, who is best known as the mythical meth-making high school chem teacher in Breaking Bad, premiered in the new Robert Schenkkan play All The Way. All The Way offers insights into President Lyndon Baines Johnson, whose administration was noted in numerous ways, including setting forth groundbreaking civil rights legislation, an effort to clean up the U.S. environment, and the mired U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
This past September All The Way premiered in Boston at the American Repertory Theatre (ART). Cranston and the three-hour play got very positive reviews. Schenkkan’s play takes a close look at LBJ by focusing on the initial year of his presidency, as he dealt with having assumed office after the tragic assassination of John F. Kennedy, and had to play backroom political hardball while yielding a diplomatic flair to get a civil rights bill passed. Johnson had to work with both sides of the aisle, including Martin Luther King Jr. and innumerable liberals on one side and a variety of racist southern lawmakers on the other.
Boston Glode reviewer Joel Brown observed, “…at Thursday night’s opening, LBJ ruled the stage. There was no sign of Walter White, the mild-mannered chemistry teacher-turned-meth chemist that Cranston plays on that acclaimed series, now in its final weeks on cable. And faint echoes of Walter’s other personality, the cold-eyed kingpin Heisenberg, were all Johnson. LBJ just made a different kind of deal.”
In the ART production apparently Cranston wore minimal prosthetics to enhance his look as Johnson. That’s one thing that neither Cranston nor anyone else involved in the Broadway production wanted to talk about. In fact, it’s said that no prosthetics are being used. It’s become a bit of a touchy subject.
How does Cranston recreate LBJ? In some ways, he does not. It’s noted that the accomplished actor portrays the essence of the 36th president but does not try to completely mimic him, which is a solid and smart choice in many ways since All The Way not intended to be an impersonation of LBJ, but rather, an interpretation of him and the early days of his presidency.
Winning Style and Look
Bryan Cranston looks to be one hot ticket in All The Way. Performances have just started for the play, which is at the Neil Simon Theatre. Last season, Holland Taylor brought her one-woman show about another Texan, former governor Ann Richards, and earned a Tony nomination. Cranston may do the same in All The Way. For more information on All The Way please contact us at 1-800-922-0716.