Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Repertory Theatre of St. Louis Starts on a New Season; Plays about Real People Bookend Rep's Lineup; LBJ, Satchel Paige Are Subjects of Two of This Year's Shows; THEATER

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Repertory Theatre of St. Louis Starts on a New Season; Plays about Real People Bookend Rep's Lineup; LBJ, Satchel Paige Are Subjects of Two of This Year's Shows; THEATER

Article excerpt

"All the Way," a drama about Lyndon B. Johnson's efforts to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, will open the 2015-16 season at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

Written by Robert Schenkken, "All the Way" won the 2014 Tony Award for best play. Actor Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad") also won the Tony for best actor for his portrayal of the president, a shrewd politician employing all his skills to achieve a difficult goal.

The Rep's artistic director, Steven Woolf, will direct the play, which will run Sept. 9-Oct. 4 on the Browning Mainstage at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts, 130 Edgar Road.

Schenkken has already written a sequel dealing with Johnson's War on Poverty, "The Great Society." It premiered last summer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Before "All the Way," Schenkken was probably best known for "The Kentucky Cycle," a massive, centuries-spanning drama that explores life, culture and environmental catastrophe in Appalachia. It won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize.

"All the Way" is also "a huge play an epic," Woolf said. "The cast is big, 17 or 18 actors who play 40 or 50 people." But Johnson, "who was really something," stands at its center, Woolf said. That role has not yet been cast.

The scope will be much smaller for the extremely intimate second production, "Gaslight," running Oct. 14-Nov. 8. Patrick Hamilton's 1938 play which at various times has been known as "Angel Street," "Gaslight," and "Gas Light" tells such a compelling, psychologically acute story that years ago it inspired a new slang term, "gaslighting."

"Gaslighting" means causing someone to doubt his or her senses and, ultimately, his or her own sanity. That's just what the ostensibly loving but secretly sadistic husband in "Gaslight" does to his bride. Ingrid Bergman won a 1945 Oscar for her portrayal of the wife in one of the play's movie adaptations.

"'Gaslight' has always been in the back of my mind, but I avoided it," Woolf said. "But then I reread it and realized, this is a great thriller. It'll be fun." No director has been announced.

Woolf will announce the next three shows later. …

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