BWW Review: RING OF FIRE Burns Bright at Midtown Arts Center

BWW Review: RING OF FIRE Burns Bright at Midtown Arts Center

Ring of Fire, a lively jukebox revue of the music of the Man in Black, blazes bright at Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins, CO. There are a total of five actors, all of which accompany themselves on multiple instruments as they take the audience on a journey through Johnny Cash's discography.

I will admit that my initial expectations for the show were low. When Ring of Fire, created by Richard Maltby Jr., originally debuted on Broadway in 2006, it was a flop, closing within about six weeks of opening.

I call it a show, but there is no actual plot or any dramatized scenes. Ring of Fire is a semi-autobiographical look into the ups and downs of Johnny Cash's life. And from anyone who followed Johnny Cash's career, you know that there were a lot of downs. Did you know that in 1944, Cash's older brother was killed in a tragic accident? This moment clearly informed so much about Cash's later life: his subdued nature, his awareness of the pain around him, his addictions. There is a line of dialogue "Jack's funeral was on a Sunday. And by Monday, the entire family was back in the field. Chopping cotton."

BWW Review: RING OF FIRE Burns Bright at Midtown Arts CenterThe show is narrated by Colin Summers, portraying an older version of Johnny Cash. Summers commands the stage with a deep singing voice and charisma which could rival the Man in Black, performing some of Cash's best known singles like "A Ring of Fire" and "Walk the Line." Davey Rosenberg portrays a younger, more enthusiastic Cash as he is beginning his journey into the music business. At the beginning of Act 2, Rosenberg performs "Sunday Morning Coming Down" with his wailing tenor voice, which becomes one of the most effective moments in the show.

Brittany Brook takes on the role of June Carter with a clear and piercing tone which rivals the legend herself. Austin Hohnke holds down the instrument fort, so to speak. His insane musical skills, which find him switching back and forth between fiddle and mandolin mid-song, add another strong level to the group. Rounding out the cast is Kaine Riggan, who a majority of the time accompanies on the Up-right bass and delivers a bold interpretation of "Delia's Gone."

The most impressive part is the casts connection with each other. They seemed to really feed of each other both energetically and emotionally. Some of the best moments came in the beginning of the show, with standards like "In the Sweet By and By" and "Will the Circle be Unbroken." The harmonies, for lack of a better term, were ridiculous.

As a whole, there is an innate ability to bring forth the emotions within Johnny Cash's music. And the music really is the star of the show. Even though there is no plot, you are taken on a journey none the less.

Ring of Fire runs at Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins through March 25th. Tickets are available at MidtownArtsCenter.com, by calling (970)225-2555 or e-mailing boxoffice@midtownartscenter.com. Box office hours are Tuesday - Saturday, 10am - 5pm.

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From This Author Felicia Tassone

Felicia Tassone has a B.A. in Acting from University of Northern Colorado and graduated from the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts in NYC.  Felicia (read more...)

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