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Lyndon B. Johnson is headed back to Broadway for another term.
Five years after winning the Tony Award for best play with All the Way, Robert Schenkkan’s drama about the 36th U.S. president’s combative first year in office fighting to pass the Civil Rights Act, the playwright will return this fall with his second work exploring LBJ’s legacy, The Great Society.
The role, which won Bryan Cranston the first of his two Tonys in All the Way, will be played this time by Brian Cox, currently appearing as the patriarch on HBO’s Succession and last seen on Broadway in 2011 in That Championship Season.
Like All the Way, the new play will be directed by Bill Rauch, who first staged both works at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The Great Society depicts the turbulent times that led to the conclusion of the Johnson presidency in 1968.
Billed as “Part II of the LBJ Plays,” it chronicles the defining era in American history that came between Johnson’s landslide election victory and his pained decision just three years later not to run for a second term. The period had brought innovative social programs as well as the untold losses of an intractable conflict in Vietnam, which caused deep divisions in the leadership of the Democratic Party.
Joining Cox in the cast will be Marc Kudisch as Richard J. Daley, Grantham Coleman as Martin Luther King Jr., Richard Thomas as Hubert Humphrey, Gordon Clapp as J. Edgar Hoover, Bryce Pinkham as Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Frank Wood as Senator Everett Dirksen. Additional cast, including actors playing the roles of Richard Nixon, Coretta Scott King, Lady Bird Johnson, Governor George Wallace and Robert McNamara, are to be announced.
Previews begin Sept. 6 at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater, with an official opening to be scheduled. The 12-week limited engagement is produced by Jeffrey Richards, Louise Gund, Rebecca Gold, Stephanie P. McClelland, Jayne Baron Sherman, Jacob Soroken Porter and Lincoln Center Theater.
The production’s design team includes sets by David Korins, costumes by Linda Cho, lighting by David Weiner, music and sound by Paul James Pendergast and projections by Victoria Sagady.
Schenkkan won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for The Kennedy Cycle, which was produced on Broadway the following year. In addition to adapting All the Way for the HBO television movie, he wrote the screenplays for The Quiet American and Hacksaw Ridge and was a writer on the HBO war series, The Pacific. Schenkkan currently is working on two feature projects for Amazon Pictures: The Last Airman for Jake Gyllenhaal, and Union for Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
July 23, 4:30 p.m. This story has been updated with additional casting.
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