Previews begin Feb. 8 toward a March 12 opening. The Ethel Barrymore Theatre is at 243 W. 47th St.
Directed by Tony Award winner Richard Maltby, Jr. (Ain't Misbehavin', Fosse), Ring of Fire is billed as "a theatrical and musical experience that will lift your heart and stir your soul." The show is not a musical biography of the life of Cash, the Arkansas-born singer-songwriter who crooned about alienation, prison life, love, the Southland and more.
In Ring of Fire, "a remarkable cast of performers and musicians take us on a rousing adventure of love and faith, struggle and success — all with the strength, humor and downright honesty that made Johnny Cash one of the greatest songwriters and most revered storytellers in American music."
The musical features 38 of the music legend's songs, including "Country Boy," "A Thing Called Love," "Five Feet High and Rising," "Daddy Sang Bass," "Ring of Fire," "I Walk the Line," "I've Been Everywhere," "The Man in Black," and his final hit, "Hurt."
Ring of Fire was created by Maltby and conceived by William Meade. Musical direction is by Jeff Lisenby and choreography by Lisa Shriver. Tickets are currently available online at Telecharge.com or by phone at (212) 239-6200; outside metro New York (800) 432-7250.
Ticket prices range $86.25 to $101.25. Performances will play Tuesday- Saturday at 8 PM and matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM.
For more information about Ring of Fire, visit www.ringoffirethemusical.com.
"About six years ago, Bill Meade got the idea for putting the music of Johnny Cash on the stage," Maltby wrote in productions notes. "Many people had approached Johnny, but only Bill's idea convinced him, and after about five years, just before he died, Johnny gave Bill the stage rights to this material.
"When Bill asked me to create a theatrical show out of the music of Johnny Cash, he gave me a stack of CDs and books about two feet high (and rising). I listened and read and began to think, and two things became immediately clear. First, we shouldn't attempt to put Johnny Cash himself on the stage. The persona, the voice, are unduplicatable, and the very best we could achieve would be a poor imitation. Second, as interesting as Johnny Cash's life was, dramatizing it on the stage (it seemed to me) would only lessen, not enhance, it.
"To me, Johnny Cash's biography wasn't the most important story available to tell. Taking all the songs together, adding in the life he led, the person he was, the people he knew, loved, and sang about, it seemed to me that there is another story here. It's an almost mythic American tale — of growing up in simple, dirt-poor surroundings in the heartland of America, leaving home, traveling on wings of music, finding love, misadventure, success, faith, redemption, and the love of a good woman — and eventually returning home. It's about the journey of a man in search of his own soul, which is what in fact emerges when you consider all the details of Cash's life together. That seemed to be a worthy story to put on a stage — and the best part is we could tell it entirely in the songs.
"I refer to this as a story, but you won't find a plot, or dramatized scenes, on stage in this entertainment. The details are there for those who choose to find them, but along with them are glimpses of the world Cash lived in — of home, and family, and the land; of hard work and adversity; of faith and love and compassion for people who lead hard lives or are down on their luck. Humor is what gets you through this life, as these songs so often show — and the simple hungers that draw one person to another are addressed with complete directness. These are songs full of love and feeling, wit and understanding, and like all country songs, they tell it like it is.
"I have complete faith that although we do not dramatize Johnny Cash's life, by the end of the show the audience will feel that they have spent the evening in the presence of an extraordinary and real man. In many ways Johnny Cash wrote and sang about the lives we all lead, regardless of where we lead them. If, watching this show, you feel yourself being drawn back to your roots, it isn't accidental — even if you've forgotten what those roots are. I hope as we bring to life these wonderful songs, we will touch your heart, mind and soul as well, and take you too back to a part of your life you may want to return to."