As Roundabout’s Artistic Director, there are few things I cherish as deeply as Roundabout’s relationship with Arthur Miller. It began, as it happens, with a production of All My Sons back in 1974. Now, 45 years and several theaters later, I could not be more thrilled to be counting the show you’re about to see as Roundabout’s ninth Miller revival.
All My Sons stands as one of the greatest triumphs of one of our nation’s greatest dramatists. Premiering on Broadway in 1947, All My Sons put Arthur Miller on the map for the first time, earning him major critical acclaim and winning him the Tony Award for Best Author. It would prove to be but the first in a series of his plays – including Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953), and A View from the Bridge (1955) – that came to establish Miller as an undisputed master of the stage and the “moral voice of the American theatre.”
Miller’s “moral voice” confronted an America at odds with itself, an America whose elaborate networks of power and greed so often trample its most cherished values: equality, justice, liberty, truth. What does such a nation most reward? Integrity…or exploitation? Bearing the brunt of this dilemma are the kinds of people whom Miller immortalized in such tragic heroes as Willy and Linda Loman, John and Elizabeth Proctor, and Eddie and Beatrice Carbone – the workers, the colonists, the immigrants.
Every bit as monumental in Miller’s arsenal of characters is the leading duo of All My Sons: onetime factory owner Joe Keller (Tracy Letts) and his wife Kate (Annette Bening). Years after the end of World War II, they still await any word on the whereabouts of their son, an Air Force pilot who disappeared during a combat mission. But as the family’s past involvement in the war effort comes further and further into light, it becomes clear that for the Kellers, the war is far from over.
The Kellers’ story dives into the most fundamental of conflicts between survival and morality: When might self-preservation become cruelty? One person’s freedom become another’s oppression? Good intentions become evil actions? Miller never shies from the epic, never hides from the uncomfortable, and the result is a deeply spellbinding drama that captures humanity at its most shocking, its most vulnerable, and its most heartbreaking.
Miller’s work has always held a particularly important place in my own life. The first play I ever read was Death of a Salesman. I was a young high school student, and the play piqued my interest in theatre for the first time – and enthralled me with Miller’s dramas in particular. Decades later, while at Roundabout, I would come to work alongside Miller as a colleague and, inconceivably, a friend. Despite being one of the most successful playwrights of the 20th century, Miller approached his work with a humility and a generosity that inspire me to this day. Now, with a record-setting number of Miller revivals to our name, Roundabout proudly stands as the leading producer of Miller’s work in New York City.
And we could hardly have a more extraordinary team of artists to bring this production of All My Sons to life. Four-time Academy Award nominee Annette Bening (who is returning to Broadway for the first time in over 30 years), Tony Award winner Tracy Letts, and Benjamin Walker are three of the most talented performers working today. Director Jack O’Brien, who is collaborating with Roundabout for the first time, is a theatrical Renaissance man, with two dozen Broadway credits to his name – not to mention three Tony Awards for Best Direction.
I am so excited for you to see this cast and creative team bring All My Sons to life. And, as always, I am eager to hear your thoughts on our season, so please continue to email me at ArtisticOffice@roundabouttheatre.org with your reactions. I can’t tell you how greatly I value your feedback.
I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!