“All the Way,” which starred Bryan Cranston both onstage and in a subsequent television adaptation, ended in November, 1964, when Johnson, who became president upon the assassination of John F. Kennedy, won election to a full term. “The Great Society” follows Johnson until March, 1968, when he announced that he would not seek re-election.
“It chronicles the high-water mark of the programs of the Great Society, and the growing tragedy in Vietnam,” said Mr. Schenkkan, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for “The Kentucky Cycle.” “It’s an extraordinarily dramatic period, and absolutely urgent — in many ways, I think of it as the origin story for our present political crisis.”
“‘All the Way’ is a drama,” he added, “and ‘The Great Society’ is a tragedy.”
The play was first staged at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2014, and then at the Seattle Repertory Theater (where it ran alongside “All the Way”). It has had several subsequent runs, including in 2017 at Asolo Repertory Theater in Sarasota, Fla., and last year at the Alley Theater in Houston, the Arena Stage in Washington and the Dallas Theater Center. Mr. Schenkkan said it has “changed considerably” along the way. “I wanted to get this right, and I’ve taken my time,” he said. “Now I feel the script is absolutely right and tight and ready for New York.”
The play is a commercial production, with a team led by Mr. Richards, taking place in a nonprofit house, Lincoln Center Theater. The producers, who also include Louise Gund, Rebecca Gold, Stephanie P. McClelland, Jayne Baron Sherman and Jacob Soroken Porter, are renting the space from the nonprofit, according to a spokesman for Lincoln Center Theater, but the nonprofit’s members will have an early opportunity to purchase tickets (starting Monday) and the theater is credited as a co-producer; the arrangement is similar to that for “Ann” in 2013.