BWW Reviews: RING OF FIRE - The Music of Johnny Cash
Ring of Fire, now on stage at London's Grand Theatre will be a thrill for true Johnny Cash aficionados. Only those who are big Cash fans and true country music enthusiasts will appreciate the lesser known songs in this concert-style show.
Six singers - three men, three women - are on stage with a five piece band. They all sing Johnny Cash's songs and between numbers they play Johnny or different characters in Cash's life, acting or narrating little vignettes.
Don't go expecting a Cash impersonator or a bio-show. This is not the same as "Johnny and June" which came to the former London City Music Theatre in 2010 and Huron Country Playhouse II in 2012. In that production, the part of Johnny was played by an impersonator who had Johnny's sounds and mannerisms down pat.
Many numbers include the entire ensemble, while others allow individual singers to shine. Cameron MacDuffee keeps us entertained with "Straight A's in Love", demonstrating some Elvis influence, and later performs the always popular "A Boy Named Sue". Jennifer Kee shows great emotion with "Sweet Bye and Bye", when we learn about the death of Johnny's brother. Jonathan Gould sings Johnny's first recording "Cry, Cry, Cry" that Johnny wrote after he was told he needed a song that was a real weeper.
Rebecca Auerbach brings comedy to the show singing June Carter's "Flushed from the Bathroom of your Heart". Sandy Crawley presents us the favourite "Walk the Line", and Daphne Moens shines with "Tear Stained Letter".
Fiddler extraordinaire John P. Allan plays the "Orange Blossom Special", an obvious audience favourite.
Daddy Sang Bass is a crowd pleaser, with the audience spontaneously clapping along. The highlight of the show is the end of Act I, when Cash favourites are covered: If I were a Carpenter, Ring of Fire and Jackson.
But if you're fond of country music with of twang and you're a fan of Johnny Cash and June Carter, you'll enjoy all the numbers in this show.
Ring of Fire continues at the Grand Theatre, London until November 2. Tickets are available at the Grand box office at 672-8800 or 1-800-265-1593 or visit www.grandtheatre.com.
A member of the Canadian Theatre Critics Association, Mary Alderson reviews shows at area theatres and posts blogs at www.entertainthisthought.com .