Johnny Cash Musical Ring of Fire Begins Broadway Performances Feb. 8, 2006

News   Johnny Cash Musical Ring of Fire Begins Broadway Performances Feb. 8, 2006
The Great White Way will welcome The Man in Black — or at least his essence — in February 2006.

Jarrod Emick in Studio Arena Theatre's production of Ring of Fire.
Jarrod Emick in Studio Arena Theatre's production of Ring of Fire. Photo by Joan Marcus

Ring of Fire, the new musical that celebrates the world and sound of late singer-songwriter Johnny Cash, will begin Broadway previews Feb. 8, 2006, leading to an opening of March 12.

As previously reported, the Richard Maltby Jr.-directed project (which earned solid reviews in a regional test run) will play the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 243 W. 47th Street.

Ring of Fire was created by Tony Award winner Maltby (Ain't Misbehavin', Fosse, Baby) and William Meade. The show will have musical direction by Jeff Lisenby and choreography by Lisa Shriver.

Ring of Fire is presented by William Meade, CTM Productions, G-Four Productions, Robert Cuillo and James B. Freydberg, who also serves as executive producer.

A new motion picture, "Walk the Line," telling the story of Cash, will be released later this year. It stars Joaquin Phoenix as Cash and Reese Witherspoon as his wife June Carter. If it's a hit, it could fuel interest in the coincidental Broadway property. *

The new Johnny Cash-inspired musical played the Studio Arena Theatre in Buffalo through Oct. 9. The work is subtitled The Johnny Cash Musical Show.

Singer-songwriter Cash, a country music and blues legend, died in 2003. The new theatrical event is expected to feature six actors and eight musicians, bringing theatrical life to his classic story-songs. The show does not feature an actor playing Cash, who was known for his fondness of wearing black—he was known as "The Man in Black," which is also the title of his autobiography.

Maltby's Buffalo cast included Tony Award winner Jarrod Emick (Broadway's Damn Yankees, The Boy From Oz), Jeb Brown (Broadway's Aida), Laurie Canaan, Jason Edwards (Off-Broadway's Johnny Guitar), Dan Immel, Ron Krasinski, Jeff Lisenby, David M. Lutken, Beth Malone, Cass Morgan (Broadway's Beauty and the Beast, Pump Boys and Dinettes), Brent Moyer, Randy Redd and Lari White (the gospel recording artist).

The musicians who brought more than 35 Cash songs to life included Laurie Canaan, Ronald R. Krasinski, David M. Lutken, Eric Anthony, Brent Moyer, Randy Redd, Dan Immel and Ken Triwush.

According a Studio Arena announcement, "This amazingly inventive and exciting world premiere musical revue brings to life through words and music, the stories made famous in Johnny Cash's songs. The show features 38 of the music legend's songs such as '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.'''

The designers were Neil Patel (scenic), Ken Billington (lighting), David Woolard (costume), Peter Fitzgerald & Carl Casella (sound) and Michael Clark (projection). Ben Stein is assistant to the director.

Richard Maltby, Jr. won a Tony Award for conceiving and directing the Fats Waller musical Ain't Misbehavin'. He co-conceived and directed the dance retrospective, Fosse, which won a Tony Award for Best Musical. He was the co-author of the international smash hit musical Miss Saigon and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance. His work with composer David Shire includes Big; Baby; Closer Than Ever; Starting Here, Starting Now and the still-developing show, Take Flight.

"Taken together, Johnny Cash's songs seem to tell an almost mythic story of America," director and co-creator Maltby said in a statement. "That's what we're attempting to put on stage. I think the humanity, the humor, the sexiness, the emotional depth will be a revelation to most theatre audiences. I am very proud and excited to bring this truly unique world premiere production to Studio Arena Theatre's audiences."

Jim Freydberg, who is co-producing the show for Broadway, said in a statement, "I am excited that we licensed this production to Studio Arena Theatre. "The quality of work being done at this theatre is impressive and it is a great opportunity for us to have a Buffalo premiere of the same show that will be going on to Broadway."

Co-conceiver William Meade has been involved with more than 50 Broadway shows and 100 national and international tours over the years. He is also a Grammy Award-nominated record producer, with 150 jazz, cabaret and theatrical releases on his resume.

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