ring of fire is a musical presented in concert format by a group of five performers performing the songs of legendary country music artist Johnny Cash. The show, which was designed by William Meade and created by Richard Maltby, Jr., opened March 12, 2006 at the Ethel Barrymore Theater on Broadway. Unfortunately, it only lasted 57 performances after it closed on April 30 of that year. This production presented by the North Carolina Theater is directed by Randy Redd, who was part of the original Broadway cast.
When I saw The Raleigh Little Theater production of Beehive: The Sixties Musical Back in August of last year, I mentioned that the only kind of musical that uses a pre-existing song catalog that I think doesn’t get enough credit is a revue. ring of fire is pretty much that, as most of them consist of actors performing their own renditions of these classic songs. Although throughout the show, each performer takes turns narrating the backstory behind Johnny Cash. Some of them act like they’re “The Man in Black” himself, while others act like they’re the people he’s met throughout his life. It’s an interesting concept given a fairly lively execution.
The entire show is staged on a single basic stage. Although the back wall opens up at some point during the first act (which is pretty cool to see). The lighting designed by CJ Barnwell is very evocative of mood and setting. Everyone on stage works so well as a team. Carrie Lyn Brandon, Austin Hohnke, Jenna Moll Reyes, Rodolfo Soto and Miguel Ragel Wilson all bring such rich vocals that do the songs justice. Not only that, but they also play their own instruments very well. The general presentations of these tracks are quite flashy
In the director’s note in the poster for this production, Randy Redd said he felt the series was overshadowed by Johnny Cash’s 2005 biopic, walk the linewhen ring of fire made its Broadway debut. Although I agree with that, I think it was also overshadowed by another musical catalog, Boys jersey, which debuted during that same theatrical season and became a huge hit. Although nevertheless, ring of fire turns out to be quite a unique show in itself. Audiences of all generations are sure to have a great time. Whether you know Johnny Cash or not, you should always stamp your feet and clap from start to finish.
The North Carolina Theater production is currently playing at the AJ Fletcher Opera Theater through May 8. For more information, please visit: https://nctheatre.com/shows/ring-fire