Jack Willis to Lead Arena Stage's All The Way

Feb 3, 2016
All The Way

Robert Schenkkan's Tony Award-winning drama All the Way, about President Lyndon Baines Johnson's impassioned struggle to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, makes its Washington, D.C. debut at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Kyle Donnelly, who has directed more than 20 productions at Arena Stage, returns to helm this "sure-fire, action packed hit" (Huffington Post) about a country still reeling from the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the man tasked with calming the storm. Hailed as a "sensational night of theater" (NPR), All the Way runs April 1-May 8, 2016 in the Fichandler Stage.

As previously announced, Jack Willis, seen in Arena Stage's Mother Courage and Her Children and currently performing in Sweat through February 21, reprises his role as one of the most controversial, ambitious and exciting presidents of the 20th century. Willis originated the role of LBJ at Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2012 in what the Ashland Daily Tidings hailed "a bravura performance...You simply cannot take your eyes off of [him] on stage," and more recently reprised the role at Seattle Repertory Theatre.

The previously announced Bowman Wright (Arena Stage's The Mountaintop, King Hedley II) plays Martin Luther King, Jr. Joining them are Richard Clodfelter (New York's Signature Theatre's A Little Princess) as Hubert Humphrey and Richmond Hoxie (Broadway's I'm Not Rappaport) as J. Edgar Hoover.

The 17-member cast features David Bishins as Robert McNamara, JaBen Early as Stokley Carmichael, Cameron Folmar as George Wallace, Lawrence Redmond as Richard Russell, Susan Rome as Lady Bird Johnson, John Scherer as Walter Jenkins, David Emerson Toney as Roy Wilkins and Tom Wiggin as Stanley Levison. The cast also includes Desmond Bing as Bob Moses, Shannon Dorsey as Coretta Scott King, Adrienne Nelson as Lurleen Wallace, Stephen F. Schmidt as Cartha "Deke" DeLoach and Craig Wallace as Ralph Abernathy.

"I first saw All the Way three years ago at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the production had me on the edge of my seat the entire time," says Artistic Director Molly Smith. "This work chronicles an important piece of our history; the transitional period after JFK's assassination and the fluctuating power dynamic between the people and the government that at times stymied our nation. I'm particularly excited to have Jack Willis and Bowman Wright return to Arena in these powerful roles, bringing to life this pivotal period in America, and for Kyle Donnelly to return to the Fichandler with her intimate knowledge of the space."

"I am excited to be back in the Fichandler Stage, the most democratic of all spaces, to stage this study in democracy and politics that is about a less travelled, and yet important and exciting period in America, particularly relevant to the Civil Rights struggles we continue to face today," adds Donnelly. "To direct All the Way for a D.C. audience is nothing but a privilege for me."

Donnelly reunites with several of her longtime design collaborators-Set Designer Kate Edmunds, Costume Designer Nan Cibula-Jenkins, Lighting Designer Nancy Schertler and Original Composition and Sound Designer David Van Tieghem.

Robert Schenkkan (Playwright)'s All the Way, part one of his "LBJ Plays," won the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Awards, Kennedy Prize, Steinberg/ATCA Award for Best Play and broke two Broadway box office records in 2015. Robert is currently adapting All the Way as a feature film for HBO, produced by Steven Spielberg and starring Bryan Cranston. Robert's previous Broadway experience was the Pulitzer Prize-winning epic The Kentucky Cycle, which also won the LA Drama Critics Award and was nominated for the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. Other plays include Lewis and Clark Reach the Euphrates, By the Rivers of Babylon, Handler, The Marriage of Miss Hollywood and King Neptune, Heaven on Earth, Tachinoki, Final Passages, The Devil and Daniel Webster, The Dream Thief, A Single Shard and his newest play, The Great Society, the sequel to All the Way. His musical The Twelve had its world premiere in Denver in 2015 and is scheduled to begin a national tour. Film credits include The Quiet American and Hacksaw Ridge. Robert was nominated for two Emmy Awards and won a WGA Award for his work on HBO's Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg miniseries The Pacific. Additional TV work includes The Andromeda Strain, Crazy Horse and Spartacus.

Kyle Donnelly (Director)'s productions at Arena Stage include Other Desert Cities; Ah, Wilderness!; Well; The Women; Born Yesterday; She Loves Me; Polk County (Helen Hayes Award for Best Musical); Dancing at Lughnasa (Helen Hayes Award for Best Production); Misalliance; Tom Walker; Shakespeare in Hollywood; Lovers and Executioners; Summer and Smoke; School for Wives; and many others while associate artistic director. She has also directed at Seattle Repertory Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Huntington Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Goodman Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, McCarter Theatre Center, Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, Cape Cod Theatre Project, The Old Globe, American Conservatory Theater, Studio Theatre, Humana Festival and Alliance Theatre, as well as directing the American premiere of Brian Friel's Give Me Your Answer, Do! (Roundabout Theatre Company). Awards include the Alan Schneider Director Award from TCG. She is a proud faculty member of the M.F.A. actor training program at University of California, San Diego and holds the Arthur and Molli Wagner Endowed Chair in Acting. She is thrilled to be back at Arena directing in the Fichandler, her favorite space in which to direct.

Cast Biographies Jack Willis (President Lyndon Baines Johnson) returns to Arena Stage after appearing in Sweat, Mother Courage and Her Children, Book of Days, Of Mice and Men and Agamemnon and His Daughters. Broadway credits include Julius Caesar, The Crucible, Art and The Old Neighborhood. Off-Broadway credits include The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, World of Mirth, The Iphigenia Cycle and Valhalla. He has appeared in more than 200 productions worldwide and been a company member at Oregon Shakespeare Festival (for the past five years), American Conservatory Theater, American Repertory Theater, Trinity Repertory Company and Dallas Theater Center. Film and TV credits include Toy Story 3, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Cradle Will Rock, The Out-of-Towners, Love Hurts, I Come in Peace, Problem Child, Law & Order, Ed and Dallas. Jack was awarded a Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship through the Ten Chimneys Foundation.

Richard Clodfelter (Hubert Humphrey and others) makes his Arena Stage debut after living and working overseas for 30 years. With ADG Europe and TNT Music Theatre Britain he performed in over 90 international productions in 35 countries on three continents, playing leading roles including Lear in King Lear, Claudius in Hamlet, Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Banquo in Macbeth, Henry Higgins in Pygmalion and Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman. Off-Broadway he played Mammon in The Alchemist and Carrisford in A Little Princess (Signature Theatre). For 25 years he has directed the longest running production of A Christmas Carol in continental Europe and recently directed the first ever production of The Fantasticks in Costa Rica (Teatro Espressivo).

Richmond Hoxie (J. Edgar Hoover and others) makes his Arena Stage debut. D.C. credits include Vienna Lusthaus: Revisited (Kennedy Center) and Butley (national tour). He made his Broadway debut in I'm Not Rappaport (also first national tour). Off-Broadway credits include To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday (Circle in the Square), Lenin's Embalmers and Louis Slotin Sonata (Ensemble Studio Theatre). Additional credits include Justice and The Dining Room (Playwrights Horizons) and Angel Street (The Pearl). Richmond has performed at many regional theaters, including Hartford Stage, La Jolla Playhouse, Huntington Theatre Company and Yale Repertory Theatre. Film and TV credits include JFK, Still of the Night, Without a Trace and the various iterations of Law & Order. A stint in LA led to roles in China Beach, L.A. Law and Christine Cromwell.

Bowman Wright (Martin Luther King, Jr.) was last seen at Arena Stage as King in King Hedley II and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in The Mountaintop. Theater credits include Our Lady of Kibeho (Signature Theatre Company); TogDog/UnderDog (Marin Theatre Company); A Raisin in the Sun (Geva Theatre Center); A Midsummer Night's Dream (La Jolla Playhouse); The Dreamer Examines His Pillow (Shakespeare & Company); The Piano Lesson (Virginia Stage); Since Africa and A House with No Walls (Interact Theatre); Fences (Actors Theatre of Louisville); and Death and the King's Horsemen (Lantern Theatre). Films credits include Sight (Lionsgate Productions) and Vinson (Sainvil Productions). TV credits include Person of Interest, Blue Bloods and Elementary. Bowman is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego.

Desmond Bing (Bob Moses and others)'s D.C.: A Midsummer Night's Dream (Folger Theatre), Unexplored Interior (Mosaic Theater Company), Occupied Territories, Brokeology (Theater Alliance), Ten Minute Play Festival (Round House Theatre). Film: Lawn Gnome, Love Story.

David Bishins (Robert McNamara and others) D.C.: Between Riverside and Crazy (Studio Theatre), The Tempest, The Winter's Tale (Shakespeare Theatre Company), Appropriate (Woolly Mammoth). Off-Broadway: The Glass House, Incident at Vichy, Sympathetic Magic, The Nest, Boys in the Band. Film: A Cure For Wellness; SALT; The Adjustment Bureau; Sorry, Haters!; The War Within. TV: House of Cards, Homeland, Blue Bloods, Fringe, Law & Order.

Shannon Dorsey (Coretta Scott King and others) D.C.: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Carmen (Kennedy Center/Synetic Theater); Unexplored Interior (Mosaic Theater Company); Two Trains Running (Round House Theatre); Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet, In the Red or Brown Water Breath, Boom (Studio Theatre); Stick Fly (Everyman Theatre); The Shipment (Forum Theatre).

JaBen Early (Stokley Carmichael and others) Arena: Ruined. D.C.: Father Comes Home from the Wars (Round House Theatre), Unexplored Interior (Mosaic Theater Company), The Convert (Woolly Mammoth), Julius Caesar (Folger Theatre), F***ing A (Studio Theatre), Native Sun (American Century Theater), Titus Andronicus (Molotov Theatre), Me and The Devil Blues (Flying V).

Cameron Folmar (George Wallace and others) Broadway: The 39 Steps. Off-Broadway: Volpone, The Merchant of Venice, The Jew of Malta, Five by Tenn, Waiting for Godot. D.C.: Measure for Measure, All's Well That Ends Well, An Ideal Husband, Hamlet, Timon of Athens, A Midsummer Night's Dream, King Lear (Shakespeare Theatre Company); The Habit of Art (Studio Theatre); Five by Tenn (Kennedy Center). TV: Law & Order, Conviction.

Adrienne Nelson (Lurleen Wallace and others) D.C.: One in the Chamber (Mead Theatre Lab), Occupied Territories (Theater Alliance), shkspr prjct (Catalyst Theater), Rorschach Theatre, Forum Theatre. Other: The God of Hell, Swimming in the Shallows, Swampoodle (Dublin's Performance Corporation). TV: House of Cards.

Lawrence Redmond (Richard Russell and others) Arena: The Music Man; Ruined; A Christmas Carol: 1941; Damn Yankees; Passion Play, a cycle; South Pacific; The Misanthrope; The Great White Hope; Guys and Dolls; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. D.C.: Signature Theatre, Washington Stage Guild, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Studio Theatre, Round House Theatre.

Susan Rome (Lady Bird Johnson and others) D.C.: The Sisters Rosensweig, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide, The Argument, After the Revolution, The Moscows of Nantucket, The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, The Last Seder, Spring Forward, Fall Back (Theater J); After the Revolution, Vanya and Sonia..., An Enemy of the People, Mud Blue Sky (Center Stage). TV: House of Cards, NYPD Blue, The Wire.

John Scherer (Walter Jenkins and others) Arena: On the Town, Animal Crackers. Broadway: By Jeeves, Sunset Boulevard, Lovemusik. Regional: 3HREE (Ahmanson Theatre), George M! (Goodspeed), Goodman Theatre, Paper Mill Playhouse, Cleveland Play House, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Cincinnati Playhouse. Film/TV: Spinning Into Butter, Crossing Jordan, The Shield, Law & Order, Titus.

Stephen F. Schmidt (Cartha "Deke" DeLoach and others) Arena: Death of a Salesman, Noises Off, Damn Yankees, Guys and Dolls. D.C.: The Producers, Triumph of Love, Stuff Happens, Crave (Olney Theatre Center), Violet, Hello Dolly!, 1776 (Ford's Theatre), Urinetown (Signature Theatre), Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka (Kennedy Center). Film/TV: J. Edgar, My One and Only, La Bamba, House of Cards, The Wire.

Tom Wiggin (Stanley Levison and others) Arena: The City of Conversation. Broadway: Grease, Bobbi Boland, Breakfast with Less and Bess, Abe Lincoln in Illinois. Off-Broadway: Livin' Dolls, The Foreigner, Class Enemy. D.C.: The Intelligent Homosexuals's Guide (Theater J), Ella Fitzgerald (MetroStage). TV: Breaking Away, Izzy and Moe, The Bronx Is Burning, Iron Jawed Angels, Law & Order, Person of Interest. Kirk Anderson on As the World Turns.

Craig Wallace (Ralph Abernathy and others) Arena: Hot 'n' Throbbing, All My Sons, K2, The Great White Hope. D.C.: Ford's Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Folger Theatre. Regional: Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Actors Theatre of Louisville.

The creative team for All the Way also includes Projection Designer Gregory W. Towle, Wig Designer Anne Nesmith, Stage Manager Kurt Hall and Assistant Stage Manager Marne Anderson.

For full company bios please visit arenastage.com/shows-tickets/the-season/productions/all-the-way/.

All the Way is generously sponsored by Altria. Additional support is provided by AT&T, The PNC Financial Services Group and the David Bruce Smith Foundation.