Reviews of shows from the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts and other local venues published by the Los Cerritos Community News. The writer and paper are in their twentieth year of covering these events.

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Location: Fear City, Ca., United States

"My name is Addison DeWitt. My native habitat is the theater. In it I toil not, neither do I spin. I am a critic and commentator. I am essential to the theatre - as ants to a picnic, as the boll weevil to a cotton field." George Sanders in "All About Eve"

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Ring of Fire: the Life and Music of Johnny Cash October 11, 2013

Ring of Fire Charms Cerritos

      By Glen Creason

          It seemed appropriate that a show dramatizing the life of Johnny Cash would appear on the same stage at Cerritos where he once performed one of the great shows in hall history.   This week’s tribute show, created by Richard Maltby was nothing like a one-man show I expected.  Instead “Ring of Fire: the Life and Music of Johnny Cash” was actually a full-scale musical with spare no expense costumes, evocative sets and an entire stage-full of actors and actresses who sang musical vignettes that paid homage to the “Man in Black” from his early days in the cotton fields of Arkansas through stardom, addiction, bigger stardom and living legend status by the time of his rather early death at 71. While this show was equal parts pure corn, plentiful musical show Branson-style drama and a genuine affection for the memory of the truly great artist it might have floundered amongst the slickness of the production except for the fact that the entire cast was made up of very talented musicians who could also act.  While the biography of Cash is applied with very broad strokes the music is lively and textured while the singing is downright outstanding from Candice Lively,  Chet Wollan and Steve Lassiter who has the closest to Cash’s trademark two-note bass. Tim Drake handled the bulk of the narration with great polish and whenever it appeared the music needed a boost the high-voltage fiddle of Amberly Rosen took over.
      This is very much an ensemble effort and the music was offered in actual numbers with songs ranging from “Two Foot High and Rising” to “Daddy Sang Bass” to “the Man in Black” with the classics standing tall in “Cry Cry Cry,” “Ring of Fire,” “Jackson,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and “I Walk the Line.”  Outstanding in the medleys were the beautiful “I’ll Be Waiting on the Far Side Banks of Jordan” which Johnny Cash sang with June at Cerritos and a quite literally flag waving “the Ragged Old Flag” which drew a big ovation from an American audience ready to celebrate something together for a change.



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