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BWW Review: North Carolina Theatre's RING OF FIRE

Looking for a great night out? Fall into a burning ring of fire at Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.

BWW Review: North Carolina Theatre's RING OF FIRE

Ring of Fire is a musical presented as a concert by a group of five performers playing the songs of legendary country music artist Johnny Cash. The show, which was conceived by William Meade and created by Richard Maltby, Jr., opened on March 12th, 2006 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway. Sadly, it only ran for 57 performances after closing on April 30th of that year. This production presented by North Carolina Theatre happens to be directed by Randy Redd, who was a member of the original Broadway cast.

When I reviewed Raleigh Little Theatre's production of Beehive: The 60s Musical back in August of last year, I mentioned that the one type of musical that utilizes a pre-existing song catalogue that I don't think gets enough credit is a revue. Ring of Fire is pretty much that as most of it consists of the cast performing their own renditions of these classic songs. Although throughout the show, each performer takes turns narrating the backstory behind Johnny Cash. Some of them act as if they are "The Man in Black" himself, while others act as if they're the people he came across in his lifetime. It's an interesting concept given quite a lively execution.

The whole show is staged on a basic unit set. Although the back wall does open up at one point during the first act (which is pretty cool to see). The lighting designed by CJ Barnwell is very evocative of the mood and setting. Everyone up on stage works so well as a team. Carrie Lyn Brandon, Austin Hohnke, Jenna Moll Reyes, Rodolfo Soto, and Miguel Ragel Wilson all bring such rich vocals that do the songs justice. Not only that, but they also play their own instruments very well. The overall presentations of these tunes are pretty rowdy

In the director's note in the playbill for this production, Randy Redd said that he felt the show was overshadowed by the 2005 Johnny Cash biographical film, Walk the Line, when Ring of Fire originally debuted on Broadway. While I agree with that, I think it was also overshadowed by another catalogue musical, Jersey Boys, which debuted during that same theater season and became an enormous hit. Though nonetheless, Ring of Fire proves to be quite a unique show in its own right. Audiences of all generations are sure to have a great time. Whether you're familiar with Johnny Cash or not, you should still be tapping your feet and clapping along from beginning to end.

North Carolina Theatre's production is currently playing at A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater through May 8th. For more information, please visit:

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From This Author - Jeffrey Kare