The Rep’s has made a enlightened choice by producing the novel production “Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash” at this point in their season. It is entertaining enough to be solid holiday season fare and revealing enough to be a worthy piece of theater. Most of all, it is totally appealing and fun.
The role of Johnny Cash is noted in the program as Principal, as is the role of his wife and fellow country artist, June Carter. Both roles are played by two people. Jason Edwards, who also directs the show, plays Cash as an older man.
Derek Keeling plays Cash in his younger days.
Trenna Barnes and Allison Briner play June Carter Cash, as well as some other roles. In fact, in the cast of “Ring of Fire,” everybody acts, including all six the members of the onstage band that perform the production’s over 30 numbers during two acts.
Violinist Brantley Kearns. who is from the same area of Cash’s family, gives the most meaningful and humorous performance among the musicians.
A lot of the cast members have done this show in other venues and their familiarity with the material makes for a very polished show. “Ring of Fire” is not a tribute concert. It is an effective revealing of Cash, his family, his career and struggles, through the songbook of his music. The set is very perceptive and gives many visuals sidebars to the material. But most of all, this production is irresistibly charming and connective to its audience. Walk the line to the ticket office. You’ll be glad you did.