ROSWELL, GA. – The music of The Man in Black is back in Georgia Ensemble’s presentation of “Ring of Fire, the Music of Johnny Cash” a retrospective of Johnny Cash’s long and spectacular career.
Georgia Ensemble Theatre is again partnering with the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell for a blockbuster musical event.
“After two summers with the “John Denver Almost Heaven” show, we were looking for something new to do at the Nature Center,” said Theatre Artistic Director Bob Farley.
“The men and women I work with on these [musical] shows – we’ve been doing this for several years now — we know how to work, play and trust one another.
“It’s like being in a really good band. It’s tight,” he said.
And Farley had just finished working with the actor who played Cash in the company’s wildly successful “Million Dollar Quartet,” Chris Damiano.
“He’s an incredible artist and outstanding musician. Johnny Cash is one of his favorites,” Farley said.
Of course Damiano had done “Ring of Fire” on Broadway and Chicago for five years. He is the music director of the show.
“He is just great to work with. I enjoy having a talent like that on our stage,” Farley said.
“And as we looked at who is around right now – cast from the John Denver show and the ‘Million Dollar’ show – we said we have the talent to do something special here,” Farley said.
From there it was “no-brainer” territory.
Farley said there is plenty of chemistry among the actors/musicians. But Damiano is special in this show.
“First he is a phenomenal artist and outstanding musician. So we started with that,” he said.
And when he began making the announcement for “Ring of Fire” coming to the Nature Center at the beginning of “Million Dollar” performances at the theater, the audience reception was electric, Farley said.
Tickets began to go early, and now many performances are already sold out.
“We’ve been having a ball at rehearsal,” Farley said. “The music has been phenomenal.”
Joining Damiano onstage are longtime Atlanta actor/musician Scott DePoy who was a part of “Almost Heaven John Denver’s America” at the Georgia Ensemble Theatre and the Nature Center.
Christopher Kent is a holdover from the fabulous run of “Million Dollar Quartet,” while company stalwart Mark Schroeder (Pump Boys & Dinettes) is also on board. Laura Lindahl makes her Georgia Ensemble Theatre debut.
Farley said he really liked the script. It “transcends” the usual musical revue format.
“There’s not a lot of book to it. But the thing about Cash is, the music really does inform you about where he was in his life almost every step of the way,” Farley said. “So it is easy to tell the story directly through the music. You don’t have to say much more than that. You can tell through Cash’s songs – there is an eloquence to the lyrics and their rhythm and cadence that elevate the songs with such clarity.”
Cash was not afraid to dip into other genres. He could travel freely in the world of the blues, gospel, rock ‘n’ roll as well as country.
In 2003, Cash released his version of “Hurt,” a song written by the heavy metal band Nine Inch Nails by its member Trent Reznor.
As with most songs, Cash made it his own. It went double platinum and was Single of the Year at the Country Music Awards that year.
“Ring of Fire” is an adapted concert version of the Broadway play that emphasizes the music, Farley said. The music is the show.
Some two dozen classic Cash hits, including “I Walk the Line,” “A Boy Named Sue,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and of course “Ring of Fire” are on the playlist.
In addition, audience members will have the opportunity to enjoy all of the amenities of the Nature Center beginning at 6:30 and bring a picnic to dine on site. There will also be a cash bar available before and during the show.
Chris Nelson, executive director of the Chattahoochee Nature Center, said the facility is once again we looking forward to partnering with the Georgia Ensemble Theatre to bring fantastic music to Roswell.
“The past two summers have allowed both organizations to grow our patron bases through working together and we do it very well,” Nelson said.