April 21, 2016

For immediate release


The “Man in Black” is back!  Well, actually, it’s more like the “Women & Men in Black.”  Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash, will be a sensation at Rainbow Stage at Kildonan Park this summer.  Unlike other biographical musicals which lean on look-alike or sound-alike performers, Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash offers up a thrilling twist by having both the mature and younger Johnny Cash played by eight acting, singing, fiddle & guitar playing men and women. This is a highly popular tribute conceived by William Meade and penned by Richard Maltby, Jr. is a roof-lifting, crowd-pleasing, foot-stomping sensation.
With just enough talk to set up the songs and sum up Cash’s fascinating life, director Carson Nattrass’s brilliantly crafted production will honor the life and work of everybody’s favourite bluegrass troubadour.  Local set designer Ksenia Broda-Milian’s  has created familiar locales that resonate at times as a country barnyard, mom’s back porch, the Grand old Opry, and even a glitzy concert hall.
In this production, the songs speak for themselves, with a terse but telling narrative neatly filling in their biographical subtext including his musical and emotional partnership with fellow crooner June Carter, and his sympathy for underdogs everywhere–the line he always walked. You will be reminded of Cash’s deep roots in Depression-era Arkansas, specifically his wonder at how a supposedly destructive flood in fact spread bottomland soil to replenish the family’s cotton crop (“Country Boy”). The Cash clan made family harmony quite literal (“Daddy Sang Bass”). Alas, the accidental death of Johnny’s 14-year-old brother Jack (“In the Sweet Bye and Bye”) schooled him in sorrow, while Memphis’ Grand Ole Opry and Sun Records helped the budding singer move from gospel to country glory. At the former Cash met his mate and muse June Carter, “Flushed from the Bathroom of Your Heart.” The rest is gold on platinum. Johnny’s addiction to pep pills, penchant for piety and the common touch he brought to every note shows in his signature opening concert number “Folsom Prison Blues”.
Inevitably, this salute is a showcase for our incredibly talented artists. Jesse Grandmont’s charm, charisma, and virtuosic fiddle playing is impressive and only matched by the voice, humuor, and show-stopping guitar chops of Rainbow Stage veteran Jeff Giles (last seen rocking out at RBS as Buddy in the The Buddy Holly Story).  Winnipeg based actor/musicians Tom Keenan & Rena Semenko will turn every chart-buster to wise-man’s gold, never more so than in the love-laden “I Walk the Line,” a divine duet.  Other local artists making their Rainbow Stage debut include Elena Howard Scott and Gilles Fournier, who will definitely wow with their energy, enthusiasm and exciting musicianship.  Rounding out the cast are newcomers Kaitlyn Semple and Allison Lynch – who between them play an impressive 10 different instruments!
In fact, the entire cast are accomplished multi-instrumentalists.  You can expect to see them play keyboards, accordion, juice harp, harmonica, fiddle and upright bass, percussion, mandolin, as well as electric, acoustic and resonator guitars. The orchestrations, by Gerry Atwell, confirm the legend with every hard and soft hit. There’s even a sweet-tempered salute–“Egg Suckin’ Dog”–to the cornball acts that make the Opry a shelter for the silly. It’s a very generous celebration, coached to perfection and firing on all cylinders.
Not one moment drags, after two hours your face will hurt from smiling. Don’t be disappointed, buy your tickets now.  With only 78 days and counting until opening night summer will be here sooner than we can blink!

For further information on this article, please contact:
Ray Hogg, Artistic Director 204-989-5261 x2226 or rhogg@rainbowstage.ca

To set up interviews, please contact:
Julie Eccles, Executive Director  204-989-5261 x2224 or jeccles@rainbowstage.ca

Tickets are on sale now and ticket prices start at $55 for adults; there is a sponsored rush seating night tickets $25.

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