C+

Summary: I love Bryan Cranston so so much, and while I know he prides himself on only working with well-written material, this story simply did not feel like it needed to be told.

 

Hoo-rah!

  • I learned about the passing of the Civil Rights act in a manner slightly more interesting than reading a textbook.
  • Actor playing Martin Luther was phenomenal– great speaker and captured his essence.
  • Made me feel like I need to watch Lincoln, so I guess it put me in a historical-dramatization mood.
  • The ensemble handled the 60-some-odd roles they needed to play well; rarely did I confused multiple characters played by the same actor, so props also go to the makeup and costumes department. And the props department!
  • Great set and use of projections– minimal in some respects, but captured the sense of all the places LBJ visits.
  • Bryan Cranston got to repeat one of his iconic Breaking Bad lines in this show “You’re goddamn right it’s my party.” For some reason people also cracked up at a line about ‘the walking dead.’

Blech…

  • I learned about the passing of the Civil Rights act in a manner slightly more interesting than reading a textbook.
  • Unlike something like, say, 1776, there was no charm or fun to this.
  • I never felt a sense of stakes– you already know the Civil Rights Act will pass and LBJ is going to get elected, and none of the obstacles dramatized in the play feel particularly insurmountable.
  • Didn’t feel like I learned anything meaningful about Lyndon Johnson; there was a surprising lack of distinction between his public and private life.
  • At times, the characterization of LBJ had a caricature-y quality, bordering on Foghorn Leghorn.
  • Sound could have been used to greater effect, particularly to emphasize the bigger moments. The only music I recall was at the beginning of Act 1 and the beginning of Act 2… and it wasn’t particularly memorable.

 
Tales from the Stage Door…

Bryan is an incredibly sweet guy. He hung outside for at least 20 minutes talking to fans, signing things, and taking pictures with them. He might have stayed longer– I don’t know! I left after he took care of me. Here’s some fun moments:

  • Me: Bryan! I watched a ton of Malcolm in the Middle growing up. You were like a second dad. Bryan: (looks hard at me) I’m pretty sure I’m your real dad.
  • Guy: Bryan! Can you talk to my dad? He’s on the phone. Bryan: (on the phone) Are you this young man’s father? We’re at the police station. He’s been arrested for indecent exposure. Please come pick him up.
  • Couple: We’re a couple because of Breaking Bad! Bryan: Breaking Bad made you a couple? That’s terrible. So you’d watch the show then have anxiety sex?
  • Young Girl: This is my first Broadway show and I’m just starting to realize I’m in love with acting. Any advice? Bryan: Always attach yourself to well-written material. It’ll never fail you. When I was your age I always dreamed of being on Broadway. I took work where I could find it, but always made sure I believed in what I was performing.