Johnny Cash (Jonas Shandel) partners for a duet with June Carter (Samantha Currie) during ‘Ring of Fire’. The show is a musical journey through the life of Cash, a country music legend. It plays April 6 to 23 at the Chemainus Theatre.
— Image Credit: [Cim MacDonald Photo]
- by Paul Brian – Cowichan Valley Citizen
The ultimate tribute to Johnny Cash will be back in Chemainus by foot-stompin’ demand.
Ring of Fire runs April 6-23 at the Chemainus Theatre Festival, featuring many of Cash’s greatest hits woven together with his fascinating life story from farming to iconic superstar.
“It’s a musical journey through Johnny Cash’s life,” explained musical director Kraig Waye.
“It’s not extremely heavy on story, but through a series of little interludes and vignettes it takes you through his early life in Arkansas through to the beginning of his musical career in Memphis, of course some of the Gospel songs in his career. Then as the show progresses it lightly touches on some of the troubles he went through, obviously his relationship with June Carter.”
The show features over three dozen Cash songs including such favourites as ‘Walk the Line’, ‘I’ve Been Everywhere’, ‘Country Boy’, ‘A Thing Called Love’ and, of course, ‘Ring of Fire’.
“It’s really interesting. You really get a chance to touch on all the genres and the different styles that he was able to incorporate into his career over the decades,” Waye said. “You get a little flavour of his Gospel roots and his early boom-chicka-boom, the train chuggin’ country, and then even some features later like the ’70s country like ‘Man in Black’ and the Kris Kristofferson song ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’. There’s even a murder ballad in the show, the song ‘Delia’s Gone’.”
The cast includes artists who will be familiar to the audience and newcomers to the festival stage. Performing stories and songs that were stepping stones on Cash’s journey are Alexander Baerg, Timothy Brummund (as narrator and voice of Cash when he looks back), Scott Carmichael, Andrea Cross, Samantha Currie (as June Carter), Daniel Kosub, Mark MacRae and Jonas Shandel (as the up-and-coming, youthful Cash).
“There’s one who’s playing sort of the younger Cash, that’s Jonas Shandel, so he does the bulk of the lead singing and then the other is Timothy Brummund, who acts as the narrator and also the older conscience of Cash, the reflective version,” Waye explained. “The rest of the folks lend wonderful support in various roles musically and through some of the scenework.”
The show runs around two hours and has been a pleasure to musically direct, Waye said.
“It’s been fantastic. This show’s a real treat,” Waye said, adding that his good friend Zachary Stevenson who directed last year’s Ring of Fire gave him a number of helpful tips in the runup to rehearsals. “I’m putting a little bit of my own flavour in, but a good majority is just to stay true to Zach’s vision from last year,” Waye added.
Outstanding work has also been done behind the scenes, from set/projection designer Erin Gruber, costume designer Crystal Hanson, sound designer Paul Tedeschini, live mixer Andrew Nicholls, lighting designer Rebekah Johnson, stage manager Anne Taylor and apprentice stage manager Linzi Voth.
Conceived by William Meade and created by Richard Maltby Jr., Ring of Fire is a musical biography that portrays a story about hitting rock bottom and finding the faith to carry on.
“We’re excited to bring this show back for a second season,” said Sales and Marketing Director, Michelle Vogelgesang. It’s exceptionally performed, and many people asked to see it, both again and for the first time. It seems that everyone can connect with his character: as a wild gentleman, a rustic poet, a saved sinner, and an American music hero.”
Ring of Fire runs April 6-23. For tickets call 1-800-565-7738 or visit www.chemainustheatre.ca.