In Bryan Cranston’s grip

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Karen Kunawicz

Karen Kunawicz

MY number one reason for cat–ching the final performance of this year’s Tony award-winner for Out–standing Play, All the Way, is Bryan Cranston.

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I am rather ashamed of myself for coming to the Cranson party late. He was the dad in that popular sitcom Malcolm in the Middle (which I didn’t watch).

It’s just that last year, I happened to be at the Godzilla panel, the “Godzilla” press conference and the Breaking Bad panel at the San Diego Comic Con—and I instantly fell in love with his wit and sense of humor.

Right after those Cranston encounters, I quickly acquired episodes of Breaking Bad. I made a career of cramming five seasons of Breaking Bad in two months just so I could make the series finale along with the rest of the world.

As a fan of Bryan Cranston, it was very rewarding to have been able catch his final performance at the Broadway run of All the Way where he takes on the role of the central character, former US President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ).

I don’t know much about LBJ but the little snippets I’ve picked up from films and articles that mention his term are not very flattering, mostly mentioning his participation in the Vietnam War.

Robert Schenkkan’s play begins right after the Kennedy assassi–nation (he was JFK’s VP) and puts a good amount of focus on LBJ’s dogged pursuit of getting The Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed. He had to deal with personalities like Martin Luther King and J. Edgar Hoover. He had to use all the wits and tactics in his arsenal to sway his fellow Southerners in congress (he was from Texas) and get them to support that act. Somehow this all reminded me of Lincoln’s efforts to outlaw slavery.

The play also highlights his fight to win the election vs. Barry Goldwater. Though Goldwater as well as of Robert Kennedy are only mentioned and do not appear as character. LBJ particularly did not get along with the latter.

Cranston was brilliant and engaging—he was convincing, funny and compelling. The staging, the simple set design, the rest of the cast, the writing were all top notch, but truly, it was he who had me in his grip for three hours.

All The Way premiered on Broadway on March 6, and closed two Sundays ago, June 29. Next up—he voices Po’s father in Kung Fu Panda 3.

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