Generations of people love Johnny Cash because his music touches and entertains. Whether you are a fan of his gospel music, his tender love songs or his rollicking and troublesome songs Ring of Fire is a showcase of his music. Riverside Center Dinner Theater’s production is a well-sung and fun summer treat!
The story of Ring of Fire is pretty weak. I’m not a fan of multiple people playing a part because unless the script is really crisp it’s confusing. But, the actors in this production did a great job of making their differences between their different characters shine. The story is told mostly chronologically, from the first person view of Johnny Cash. Since, I’m a fan I was slightly bothered by the glossiness and inaccuracy of the relationship between Johnny Cash and his father. But, the talented actors were able to help me lose myself in the story after a moment’s consternation.
I really enjoyed so many of the performances in this show. Kathy Halenda’s rendition of “Waiting on the Far Side Banks of Jordan” brought tears to my eyes. Her performance of “Flesh and Blood” with Pat Moore was charming as well. Sarah Beth Solop and Stephany Glenn were both lovely in the radiance and sang with open hearts. I was utterly delighted whenever they performed because they were so genuine. I was very pleased that some of my favorite numbers of the evening were given by the women in “Orleans Parish Prison”, “Tennessee Flat-Top Box” and “Flushed from the Bathroom of Your Heart”. It was great to see women shining singing songs that are traditionally performed by a male artist. The gospel music was lovely and my eyes teared up again during “ Oh Come, Angel Band”. While such classics as “If I Were a Carpenter” “Big River” and “Hey Porter” made me smile. It’s impossible to not clap along to the lively finale of “Everywhere Man”.
I love country things and old-timey things so I really liked a lot of the costumes. The dresses worn by the women for most of the first act really looked authentic to the period and were lovely. The Western dresses for the costume portion of the show were also very appropriate.
I was so pleased to see that there were live musicians! They were very talented and added to both the intimacy and immersion of the world of the play.
I’m always a little skeptical of dinner theatre because I have so many food allergies and dietary restrictions. I really appreciate that I was able to view the menu online so I could see if there were things I could eat. My Italian seasoned chicken was nicely spiced and I really loved the tiny potatoes. It was so nice to have a salad ready and waiting for me at my plate instead of having to go a salad bar. The breadbasket was nice and contained a good variety of breads. I love lemon desserts and I love strawberries, too. I was very pleased with my lemon and strawberry shortcake.
I love Johnny Cash. I can really relate to him because I’m a person who is very passionate (which definitely reads as angry sometimes- and sometimes I am!) and I love Jesus very much. I love that Johnny Cash wanted to fight for the underdog and share the hope of Jesus with people. I think people definitely are looking to be cheered on and are looking hope. Perhaps another reason that Johnny Cash is so popular again is because so many people feel stepped on. His catalogue of music is so diverse that everyone can find a song that connects with them in some way. Ring of Fire celebrates the Man in Black though his music and the cast of Riverside Center Dinner Theater succeed in entertaining and touching their audiences!
The show- 8
The dinner- 8
I am a huge fan of the music of Johnny Cash. So when I saw that Riverside Center Dinner Theater was going to put on Ring of Fire: The Johnny Cash Musical Show, I was in. What followed was a fun night of good food and good performances.
I had the scampi tilapia and Kari had the quarter chicken. The food was tasty and I would eat it again. The breadbasket was especially good. I really like the baby bakers (little individually baked potatoes) as well. The crème brulee cheesecake was a dessert that I wish I could order again right now.
The show itself was very enjoyable. The script itself has some problems. The use of all six people onstage as Johnny Cash telling his own story can be confusing. The cast and crew took this challenge and overcame it very well. They made sure to hit a lot of favorites like “Big River”, “Daddy Sang Bass”, “Get Rhythm, and of course Ring of Fire. My favorites were where they were able to put a fresh spin on the originals such as Orleans Parish Prison and Egg Sucking Dog.
All of the performers were good but the standouts for me were Blaine Sumler and Stephany Glenn. Blaine delivered on every song, and Stephany showed quite a bit of range in her songs from being a small kid from being Minnie Pearl. Brent Gallahan did a good job of being silly where silly was warranted, and I didn’t want his dance breaks to end. I could have watched him dance all night. I really liked that they had live music. I’m a sucker for live musicians, and these were really good.
I did really enjoy this show, and look forward to going to see Les Miserables at the Riverside Center in the coming month.
Riverside Center Dinner Theater provided two complimentary media tickets for this review