Music ReviewsPop/Rock/FolkREVIEWSTom Williams

Ring of Fire – The Music of Johnny Cash

Created by Richard Maltby, Jr.

Conceived by William Meade

Directed by Brian Russelltheatre at the center

Musical Direction by Malcolm Ruhl

At the Theatre at the Center, Munster, IN

Toe-tapping tribute to the great Johnny Cash unfolds as a well sung and musically tremendous event!

“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash!”

theatre at the center

The folks at the Theatre at the Center have mounted a major country/folk revue of the iconic voice of Johnny Cash (1932 – 2003)- one of America’s greatest  troubadours in Ring of Fire. Cash was considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century whose songs included cowboy, folk, gospel, country, rockability, rock n’ roll and pop music. From 1955 to his death at age 71 in 2003, Cash with his wife June Carter Cash, toured the country singing his heartfelt repertoire of pure Americana tunes. His distinct bass-baritone voice was his calling card.

theatre at the center

Director Brian Russell has assembled a cast of  seven terrific musicians many of which play several instruments as the faithfully recreate the signature Johnny Cash sound. Kent Lewis uses his bass baritone to nicely render the Cash songbook.  He gets help from Michael Goodman who expertly sings the ‘Young Johnny Cash.’ Greg Hirte’s terrific fiddle playing with Malcolm Ruhl’s bass fiddle and guitar work together with Bill Underwood’s piano and Billy Shuffer’s percussion round out the fabulous music that underscores the cash tunes.

theatre at the center

Besides the two worthy Johnny Cash (s), Cory Goodrich channels June Carter Cash beautifully as she has that southern twang down pat. Goodrich is a hoot as she shows her ability to sing faster and faster in the hilarious show-stopping song “I’ve Been Everywhere” wherein she names cities rapid fire. Goodrich nails the power duet, “If I Were A Carpenter” with Kent Lewis.

This toe-tapping revue contains 32 of Cash’s songbook including hits : “Daddy Sang Bass,” “Ring of Fire,” “Jackson,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Man in Black,” “A Boy Named Sue.”  Lewis and his alter ego Goodman most effectively sing in Cash’s style without imitating him. A good decision. While this show is really a revue, the order of songs give a reflection of Cash’s story from the cotton fields of Arkansas to the Grand Ole Opry to TV shows and world tours.

This is a crowd pleaser that quickly got the opening night audience clapping and cheering. Johnny Cash would appreciate the superbly produced tribute to his legend and his songbook. Get to Munste, In at The Theatre at the Center to experience a worthy look at an American icon – Johnny Cash

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

At the Theatre at the Center, Munster, IN, call 800-511-1552,, tickets $40 – $44, Wednesdays & Thursdays at 2 pm, Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2:30 pm with select Thursday evenings and Saturdays matinees, running time is 2 hours with intermission, through March 30, 2014

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