JOHNNY CASH: PAYING TRIBUTE TO THE MAN AND THE MUSIC


BONNIE GOLDBERG

As a star of country music, Johnny Cash’s wattage shines bright and also casts a burning light on musical genres from rockabilly to rock and roll, blues to folk to gospel. Labeled one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, he has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

This mysterious “Man in Black,” who was known for wearing dark apparel in honor of the poor, homeless and imprisoned, had a distinctive deep and resonant bass-baritone and a rebellious streak that marked his manner. Ivoryton Playhouse is welcoming the memories of the man and the music in a tribute concert “Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash” until Sunday, September 4.

Let a talented trio of women, Megan Loomis, Deb Lyons and Helen Jean Russell, and a skilled sextet of men, Eric Scott Anthony (musical director), Jon Brown, Michael Hicks, David M. Lutken (co-director), John Rochette and Scott Sowers, conjure up that good ol’ country boy who hears and answers the train whistle’s call.

More than three dozen hits, from melancholy to spiritual, humorous to laced with sadness, fill this production. Each performer plays an instrument or three to make each number memorable, like “Straight A’s in Love,” “Ring of Fire,” “Jackson,”
“I’ve Been Everywhere,” “Man in Black,” “Boy Named Sue” and “Folsom Prison Blues.”

This ensemble makes you feel up close and personal with toe tapping a plum necessity, as they strum, fiddle and drum beat these old familiar melodies that marked Johnny Cash’s colorful career.

For tickets ($40, seniors $35, students $20, children $15), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7618 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org. Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Stay after the Sunday matinee for a real old-fashioned hootenanny outside. Bring your own guitar, fiddle or washboard and play along!

Created by Richard Maltby, Jr. and conceived by William Meade, with orchestrations by Steven Bishop and Jeff Lisenby, “Ring of Fire” is a straight A tribute celebration honoring that musical icon John R. Cash.

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