Video: What it's like playing Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash in The Ballad of Johnny and June

The production will run in the Mandell Weiss Theatre through July 7. 

By: May. 29, 2024
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Watch as the cast and creative team of La Jolla Playhouse's world-premiere musical, The Ballad of Johnny and June talk about bringing the production to the stage.

"I've never played a real person before, so I'm excited to bring her to life and show what she went through from childhood til the day she died." said Murin.

The musical features book by Robert Cary (SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical) and Playhouse Director Emeritus and two-time Tony Award winner Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys, The Who’s Tommy), music and lyrics by Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash and others, directed by Des McAnuff. The production will run in the Mandell Weiss Theatre May 28 – July 7.  
The cast features Christopher Ryan Grant (Broadway’s Million Dollar Quartet) as “Johnny Cash,” Van Hughes (Broadway’s American Idiot) as “John Carter Cash,” and Patti Murin (Broadway’s Frozen) as “June Carter Cash,” along with Maddie Shea Baldwin as “Anita,” Paula Leggett Chase as “Carrie,” Drew Wildman Foster as “Carl Smith/Jack Cash/Marshall Grant,” Gabriella Joy as “Vivian,” Bart Matthew Shatto as “Ray Cash/Sam Phillips/W.S. Holland,” and Correy West as “Luther Perkins/Rip Nix,” and understudies Summer Broyhill, Michael Louis Cusimano, Cody Ingram and Baily Day Sonner.
The creative team includes Ron Melrose, Music Supervisor, Arranger and Orchestrator; Lisa LeMay, Music Director; Byron Easley, Choreographer; Robert Brill, Scenic Designer; Sarafina Bush, Costume Designer; Amanda Zieve, Lighting Designer; Peter Fitzgerald, Sound Designer; Sean Nieuwenhuis, Projection Designer; Alberto “Albee” Alvarado, Wig Designer; Tara Rubin Casting/Spencer Gualdoni, CSA/Jacole Kitchen, Casting; Dean Remington, Stage Manager; and Vanessa Dodgson-Thomas and Marie Jahelka, Assistant Stage Managers.
“It’s always a delight to welcome Des back to the Playhouse – this time with this scintillating new bio-musical to launch our 2024/2025 season,” said Christopher Ashley, the Rich Family Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse. “Des is a master at bringing the lives of music icons to vivid life on stage, as evidenced by his productions of Jersey Boys, SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical, among others, and he has assembled a dynamo cast and creative team to conjure and celebrate country music legends Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash.”
Country music royalty Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash remain to this day one of the most famous couples of the 20th century. Created with the support of the family and told through the eyes of their son John Carter Cash, The Ballad of Johnny and June covers it all: their childhoods, their 1956 meeting at the Grand Ole Opry, the storied on-stage proposal in 1968, and the soaring highs and whiplash lows of fame, life on the road, addiction, arrests, controversies, marriage, family and devotion. This is a whole-hearted and clear-eyed telling of one of the most iconic love stories in music history, complete with a soundtrack of beloved hits, including I Walk the Line, Ring of Fire, I’ve Been Everywhere and many more.

Robert Cary

is the co-writer of Grease Live (dir. Thomas Kail) and A Christmas Story Live for Fox Television, the co-author of the book for SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical on Broadway, and contributed book revisions for the 2015 Broadway revival of On The Town. He is also the co-writer and co-lyricist of Flashdance (West End, US National Tour, international productions) and the lyricist and co-writer of Palm Beach (La Jolla Playhouse, Des McAnuff, dir). With partner Jonathan Tolins, he wrote Get Happy: A Judy Garland Tribute at Carnegie Hall. He is the director of the feature films Ira and Abby (Los Angeles Film Festival Audience Favorite Award), Save Me and Anything But Love.

Des McAnuff

is a two-time Tony Award-winning director and served as La Jolla Playhouse’s Artistic Director from 1983 through 1994, and from 2001 through April 2007 where he staged over 30 productions of classics, new plays and musicals. Under his leadership, the Playhouse garnered the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. He is also the former Artistic Director of Canada’s Stratford Festival and co-founder of Broadway’s Dodgers. Broadway: Ain’t Too Proud, Summer, Doctor Zhivago, Jesus Christ Superstar, Guys and Dolls, Aaron Sorkin’s The Farnsworth Invention, Jersey Boys (Tony and Olivier Awards: Best Musical), Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays (Tony Award: Best Special Theatrical Event), Dracula the Musical, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, The Who’s Tommy (Tony and Olivier Awards: Best Director), A Walk in the Woods, Big River (Tony Awards: Best Director, Best Musical). Selected New York: Fetch Clay, Make Man (NYTW); multiple productions at The Public and BAM. Stratford highlights: A Word or Two, Caesar and Cleopatra, The Tempest (all with Christopher Plummer), Twelfth Night (with Brian Dennehy). Opera: Faust (The Met, ENO). TV: 700 Sundays (HBO). Film: Cousin Bette (director, with Jessica Lange), The Iron Giant (producer, BAFTA Award) and Quills (executive producer). He has an honorary doctorate from Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University), and in 2012, he was awarded Canada’s Governor Generals National Arts Center Award and the Order of Canada. His new version of The Who’s Tommy recently opened on Broadway in March, 2024.


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