The Rapidian

All the Way! Civic Theatre's newest offering is a hit with audiences

The story of passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 comes to life in this play about President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr.
Civic Theatre Box Office

Civic Theatre Box Office /Ron Lemmon

For more information

Tickets available at Civic Theatre Box Office - play runs through Januray 28th. Visit http://www.grct.org/ for more information.

I was not enthused about attending a three-hour play. Not that I do not like plays, I do very much, but usually after two hours my interest wanes. That is not the case with "All the Way", a well-directed and produced Civic Theatre production. From start to finish, the production moved swiftly over one year from November 1963, to November 1964, detailing the characters and sometimes questionable but necessary events that took place which produced the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an epic civil rights and labor law. 

The focus of the play is mostly Lyndon Baines Johnson, known more affectionately as LBJ, who became the 36th President of the Unites States after John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The secondary, but not less important focus of the play is the actions of Martin Luther King Jr. and those who supported his work to get LBJ to push for passage of the Civil Rights Legislation.

Jon March who plays LBJ carries much of the dialogue throughout the play and from my personal experience of living through the 1960’s, he caught the very essence of LBJ’s personality and mannerisms. The sometimes-overbearing nature of LBJ’s treatment of staff, Senators, Representatives, and cabinet members, and the course language he was known to use, without regard to who was around him, was on display throughout the play. Sitting in the audience, I felt I was in the oval office, a part of the deal making and sometimes back stabbing that occurred during the process of the Civil Rights Act enactment.

Eddie Stephens who plays Dr. Martin Luther King, did an amazing job of recreating Dr. King and he showed the multitude of issues that over time drove the final content of the civil Rights Act. He was supported by a large contingent of very capable actors, who brought to the life the Civil Rights cause, from Washington to Birmingham including Stokely Carmichael, Ralph Abernathy, Roy Wilkins and others.

The play does a wonderful job of showcasing the evolving legislation utilizing 27 actors in the play representing a wide variety of historical figures that all had some impact on the process. This is a very large contingent of actors, but the director does an amazing job of showcasing each actor and their historical contribution not only by the lighting effects but also the placement of actors on a tiered stage.

Everyone should see this play at Civic Theatre! It is truly worth every minute of your time to see what really happened behind the scenes which culminated in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

And for those of you wondering what the name of the play “All the Way” has to do with the Civil Rights Act. It is the campaign slogan for Lyndon Baines Johnson, during his successful 1964 Presidential election – “All the Way with LBJ.”

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