RING OF FIRE: THE MUSIC OF JOHNNY CASH Opens Tonight at Barter Theatre

The Man in Black was a man like no other, and now Barter Theatre celebrates his music, life and legacy in the joyous musical "Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash." Starring Barter audience favorite Jason Petty as Johnny Cash and new talent Katie Deal of Georgia as June Carter Cash, the show opens tonight, August 15 at Barter's Main Stage. With a limited 4-week, tickets have already been selling fast, so Barter recommends calling soon for reservations.

Combining unforgettable country music and fascinating storytelling, this musical was created by Richard Maltby, Jr. and conceived by William Meade. Director Amy Jones has assembled a cast of musician/actors to pay homage to the iconic music of Johnny Cash, without ever descending in to impersonation. Jason Petty and Katie Deal are backed by a live 5-person band to bring Cash's music to life: Emily Mikesell, Mark T. Baczynksi, Gill Braswell, David Streng, and Steve Sensenig.

Cash's life took him from the heights of fame to the depths of despair and addiction, and back again, through his love of June Carter Cash and his deep and abiding faith. His biography has been told in books, movies, and earlier musical productions, but "Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash" is unique in the way it weaves together his music and the story of his life to capture the essence of Cash.

Cash is one of the few artists to be inducted in to the Country Music, Gospel and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame, and Barter Theatre's production honors the breadth of his talent, with songs like "I Walk the Line, " Folsom Prison Blues, " "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," and of course, "Ring of Fire."

Jason Petty (Johnny) is known nationally for his authentic, captivating country performances. He has brought Hank Williams to life through a national tour of "Hank Williams: Lost Highway," and "Hank and His Honky Heroes," (which played to sold-out houses at Barter Theatre in 2011. Now he brings his charismatic, crowd-pleasing talents to bring Johnny Cash to life.

Katie Deal (June) appeared last season in Barter's "Good Ol' Girls," and her sweet, soulful voice has been featured in television, film and stage, including an acclaimed stage tribute to Patsy Cline about which the Columbus Dispatch wrote "Deal inhabits rather than impersonates Cline, grasping the essence of her distinctive voice and rhythms without pushing them in to caricature, and appearing thoroughly comfortable in Cline's skin."

With any tribute performance, the first question fans will ask is "will he do it justice?" Barter Producing Artistic Director Richard Rose believes the show will satisfy the most die-hard Cash fans, based on Jason Petty's previous performance at Barter in 2011.

Rose says, "Not only did he show that he can be a great Hank Williams, by far the best I've seen anywhere, but he totally captivates the audience through the songs he sings made famous by other artists. Jason is authentic, honest and respectful to the originals without being imitative. Barter's audience, who know the heart and soul of country, bluegrass and folk music, found Jason Petty to be one of their own and adopted his show like it came from the mountains of Appalachia. That's saying a lot as these are the folks who come from the birthplace of country, folk and bluegrass music!"

"Ring of Fire" is made possible by corporate sponsors Strongwell and Wellmont Health System and media sponsors, the Bristol Herald Courier, Newschannel 11, Marquee and VIP Seen Magazine. Barter Theatre is funded in part by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information about tickets and Barter's new package with the Birthplace of Country Music Museum call 276.628. 3991 or visit BarterTheatre.com.

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