CHIEF LOGAN STATE PARK — For those wanting to see the outdoor performance of “Ring of Fire — The Johnny Cash Story” live at the Liz Spurlock Amphitheatre in Chief Logan State Park, this week will be your last chance.
“Ring of Fire” brings to life the stories made famous in Johnny Cash’s songs through words and music. Bill France, who portrays an older Cash, said the performances and responses have been good.
“We’ve had good reactions from the people. A lot of people are coming to see us and then coming back to see us again,” said France. “They had a good time the first time and want to relive that experience.”
France said there are close to 40 songs in the performance, including some that were not hits.
“There are a lot of songs that he wrote, some songs that June Carter wrote for him, a lot of gospel and some country,” said France. “Some of his music is almost rock ‘n roll. It really goes across the board.”
The cast of “Ring of Fire” only has eight members and all are local talent.
“The thing about our cast is that literally, any one of them could be cast as the lead in a show,” said France. “But really, none of us are leads. We have a young guy who is new to the stage, Dustin Adkins; he plays young Johnny and does a lot of the young Johnny songs. He just came out of the blue … and does a great job.”
France said that not only are Cash’s songs sung by everyone in the show, but they are accompanied by monologues of Cash’s words about his life and life in general.
“It’s not a traditional play where you would go and set there with a story. It is more like a journey through a person’s life through these songs,” said France.
France said that although he loved the movie “Walk the Line,” it contained some things about Cash that was incorrect.
“Hollywood had to ‘fix’ it and make it more appealing. We give you the straight story,” said France. “You are not getting somebody’s interpretation of his words… you are getting his actual words and the words that he sang. I think it is one of those shows that appeal to everybody.”
The majority of the music for “Ring of Fire” is live and provided by The Easy Street Band.
“They do Pickin’ in the Park and those guys are awesome,” France said. “They play everything from Bluegrass to Country and to Rock. This is the perfect show for them to showcase all of their abilities.”
France said that he was touched by the words from a member of the audience after one performance recently.
“An elderly gentleman shook my hand and said ‘I just want you to know I just lost my wife four days ago.’ I didn’t know what to say,” said France. “Then he said ‘I’ve done some crying here tonight but I’ve done a lot of laughing. I’ve been down; I’ve been up, and I’ve been proud to be an American. This has been something that has lifted my spirit.’ It just made me feel good … people really connect with this type of music. That touches your heart when you know that you’ve something that has affected somebody.”
“Ring of Fire” will be run from tonight to its final performance on Sunday, July 1. All shows begin at 8:30 p.m. nightly.