At first glance, Ring of Fire, opening this past weekend at Beef and Boards, Indianapolis, looks to be a glorious night filled with a guy who sounds and looks a lot like music legend Johnny Cash. Be forewarned. It's not.
It is not a Cash tribute band. It isn't an imitation of the Man in Black, with all of his hits performed fully while you reminisce about the times you saw him live.
Featuring three female and five male performers, the group of eight walk you through his life, via both well known and some lesser known songs written by, sung by, and/or related somehow to Cash. Each musician plays no fewer than two, some as many as five different instruments in the show. Mandolins, fiddles, various guitars, drums and a ukulele are just a few of the instruments used throughout the production. Collectively, these eight are John R. Cash.
The bio-musical skims the more well known personal bits of Cash's life, drug use, and the relationship and eventual marriage to June Carter Cash, delving more into the whys and wherefores.
Melody Allegra Berger, Tim Drake, Brian Gunter, Jill Kelly Howe, Allison Kelly, Jeremy Sevelovitz, Travis Smith and Zack Steele bring their talents together, blending harmoniously with songs such as "Oh Come Angel Band," Standout duets and solos include "Ragged Old Flag" (Drake) and "Jackson" (Steele, Kelly).
Bottom Line: Beef and Boards' Ring of Fire brings forth the more obscure songs of Johnny Cash with a healthy dose of instrumentals sharing the limelight.
Elizabeth J. Musgrave writes two magazine food and wine columns: Destination Dining and White Linen & Corks,and is a travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic. She also is a speaker, consultant and trainer for hospitality, travel and luxury businesses, P.R., and tourism groups, as well as a radio and television guest and host. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.