Bryan Cranston to play LBJ in play by Robert Schenkkan

Bryan Cranston at the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in January.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Bryan Cranston is going from playing a meth dealer on AMC’s “Breaking Bad” to playing President Lyndon B. Johnson in a new stage production of a work by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan.

“All The Way” will open the new season at American Repertory Theater in Massachusetts, with performances scheduled to begin Sept. 13. The company said that the play dramatizes Johnson’s first year in the Oval Office as he deals with the conflict in Vietnam and civil-rights unrest at home.

Schenkkan wrote the play as a commission for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where it was produced in 2012 with a different cast and directed by Bill Rauch, who is artistic director of the Oregon company. Rauch is returning as director of the new production.

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The cast will include Michael McKean as J. Edgar Hoover, Dakin Matthews as the late Sen. Richard Russell, Brandon J. Dirden as Martin Luther King, Jr., and Betsy Aidem as Lady Bird Johnson.

Cranston doesn’t have many major theater credits to his name, though he began his career on regional stages. (Jane Kaczmarek, his former “Malcolm in the Middle” co-star, is a regular presence on L.A. stages.)

In 2011, Cranston acted in a radio-play staging of “It’s A Wonderful Life” at the Geffen Playhouse, with Annette Bening.

Schenkkan won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for “The Kentucky Cycle.”


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