Review: JOHNNY & JUNE at New Theatre Restaurant

A tribute concert celebrating the music of Johnny and June Carter Cash

By: Nov. 24, 2021
Review: JOHNNY & JUNE at New Theatre Restaurant
Scott Moreau and Ashley Pankow as Johnny and June Cash in
Johnny & June" at New Theatre Restaurant
Photos by Roy Inman

New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park has opened an original and very enjoyable, new production, entitled "Johnny & June." The show is a country music tribute concert to Johnny & June Carter Cash with Scott Moreau and Ashley Pankow as the title characters and with Cathy Barnett as comedian Minnie Pearl along with a five piece band.

Johnny and June Cash passed away within months of each other in 2003, but this remembrance resurrects these country music icons to the world of the here and now. The Cash music and personas hold up exceptionally well even after a gap of almost twenty years. The actors portray the Cashes and Miss Pearl at the height of their creative powers in the mid-1980s.

Review: JOHNNY & JUNE at New Theatre Restaurant
Scott Moreau as Johnny Cash
Photo by Roy Inman

Scott Moreau has been impersonating Johnny Cash (about half time) for more than a decade and is not only an excellent performer, but also something of a scholar regarding the country superstar. If anything, Scott Moreau from Maine is a slightly superior singer to John R. Cash from Arkansas, but there are enough similarities to mistake one for the other. Moreau is ably supported by Ashley Pankow as John's wife, June Carter Cash and Cathy Barnett as comedian Minnie Pearl.

My memory of June Cash on stage is not as clear as that of Johnny so I made it a point to search out "You Tube" videos of them performing together on stage back in the day. Ashley Pankow has put in the work to research June and her physical characterization accurately reflects June's personality and the way she moved around the stage. Ashley is more than good. She is super in the role.

June Carter Cash came from a family of early American folk singers from the South. They may have been one of the first commercially successful family singing groups. They originated in rural Virginia and cut their first recordings in the middle 1920s. June was part of the group's second generation.

June met Johnny Cash in the early 1950s following his discharge from the U.S. military. They married in the middle 1960s.

Review: JOHNNY & JUNE at New Theatre Restaurant
Cathy Barnett as Minnie Pearl
Photo by Roy Inman

The show begins with a short Minnie Pearl comedy set by Kansas City based actor Cathy Barnett. Barnett as Minnie is almost indistinguishable for the original actor played until her death in 1996 by Tennessee actor Sarah Cannon. Barnett as Minnie is charming, a little naughty, and more than a bit corny in the same way you might today hear jokes on insurance company commercials featuring people trying desperately not to turn into their parents.

Barnett is followed on stage by a super energetic Ashley Pankow as June Carter Cash before we are introduced to Scott Moreau as the "Man In Black."

Moreau was the original Johnny Cash in the first national tour of the successful "Million Dollar Quartet." "Million Dollar Quartet" is based on an actual 1956 jam session at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee with Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

As always, New Theatre Restaurant is a technically superior production environment in which to see a show. Background projections by Nathan Scheuer match the lyrics of each musical number. Costumes by Georgianna Buchanan match the time period and characters precisely. Lighting by Sean Glass and scenic design by Kelli Harrod are a bit better than what Johnny and June would have had available to themselves during the years they performed. The show's concept and direction are by New Theater Theatre Restaurant Vice President of Production Joe R. Fox III.

For those who love the almost thousand songs written by the "Man in Black," the most famous are all here. Enjoy, "I Walk the Line," "The Folsom Prison Blues," "Ring of Fire," "Jackson," "Man in Black," " A Boy Named Sue, "and "Daddy Sang Bass" among others.

Food and table service is excellent at New Theatre Restaurant. "Johnny & June" will continue at New Theatre Restaurant through January 30, 2022. Tickets can be purchased online at www.newtheatre.com or by telephone at 913.649.7469.



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