Theater Review: ‘All The Way’
Don’t walk, RUN, to see the sensational production of ‘All The Way’ at Contra Costa Civic Theatre in El Cerrito, California.
Robert Schenkkan’s play about LBJ during the 1963-64 run-up to his election is superbly directed by Marilyn Langbehn, who moves her cast of 21 actors fluidly around a mostly bare set, as she stages vignettes under Courtney Johnson’s spare spotlights, supported by vintage video projections by Michael Kelly.
The star of this show is John Hale, a fine Bay Area actor, who gives a bravura performance as the wheelin’ and dealin’, duckin’ and divin’, cornball joke-tellin’ Lyndon Johnson. Hale’s line-load alone would keep most actors awake at night but Hale skillfully accompanies the manic, backwoods Texas accented dialog with a physically dynamic presence also. For almost three hours, Hale IS LBJ.
Also shining in the presence department is Khary L.Moye as Dr, Martin Luther King Jr.
Moye’s clear diction and stage demeanor is a pleasure to behold, artfully bringing King (back) to life before our eyes.
Other standout performers include Mick Renner (Sen. Richard Russell) , Kimberley Ridgeway (Coretta Scott King and Fannie Lou Hamer) , David Ghilardi (J.Edgar Hoover) Laszlo Horner (Sec. Robert s. McNamara) and Umi Grant (Stokley Carmichael) but this is an ensemble piece and there isn’t a weak performance in the show.
My companion at tonight’s opening, herself a theater actor and producer, was mesmerized by the professionalism of this production…as was I.
San Francisco Bay Area Theater Critics Circle.
When: Through May 5 2019.
Tix: firstname.lastname@example.org (510) 524-9012