BWW Reviews: RING OF FIRE - The Music of Johnny Cash

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 .

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Mary Alderson Mary has been a fan of live theatre since her first visit to the Stratford Festival as a child, where she saw Christopher Walken and Louise Marleau in Romeo and Juliet. As a teenager, she had a summer job at the Grand Bend Tourist Information booth. Huron Country Playhouse founder James Murphy gave her free tickets to his inaugural season so she could promote it to visitors. She has a vivid memory of sitting in a tent on a folding chair, with her feet up on the seat in front of her, to avoid the rivulets of rain flowing through the mud and gravel towards the stage. Unfortunately, the productions that summer were less memorable, but have improved greatly over the years.

Mary holds a B.A. in Honours English and an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Western Ontario. After graduation, Mary was a reporter for the Exeter Times-Advocate and reviewed shows at Huron Country Playhouse. Many years later, in 2004, Mary returned to writing reviews and posting them on her blog at www.EntertainThisThought.com . She lives in Strathroy, Ontario, central to the Stratford Festival, London’s Grand Theatre, Huron Country Playhouse in Grand Bend, Victoria Playhouse Petrolia, the Blyth Festival and more. Mary is a member of the Canadian Theatre Critics Association (www.canadiantheatrecritics.ca). By day, she works for the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations, (www.ontcfdc.com ) where she sees first-hand how a professional theatre can be an asset to the economic development of a community.


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