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‘Ring of Fire’ gives Johnny Cash his due

Published: Monday, Aug. 1, 2016 8:32 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Aug. 1, 2016 8:32 a.m. CDT
Photo provided Tommy Malouf appears at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in “Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash.” (Photo provided)

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS – The late Johnny Cash (1932-2003) made an indelible mark as a singer-songwriter, guitarist and actor, and his legacy is being celebrated onstage at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre via “Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash.”

Joe Keefe directs an adept ensemble cast of seven with Tommy Malouf playing the title character.

This jukebox musical, which had only a brief run on Broadway in early 2006, gives audiences a taste of the popular entertainer’s legacy.

Widely known as a country singer, Cash’s artistry crossed multiple genres from rockabilly and rock and roll to gospel, folk and blues.

Unsurprisingly, the fast-paced production, created by Richard Maltby Jr. and conceived by William Meade, focuses on song-and-dance numbers and is shy on details relating to Cash’s rise to fame.

Recurring themes hint at growing up in poverty, love won and lost and Cash’s empathy for those who found themselves downtrodden and in prison.

Audiences must wait until late in the first act to hear some of Cash’s most familiar numbers to surface, including “Ring of Fire,” “Jackson,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “A Boy Named Sue” and “I Walk the Line.”

Malouf, dressed in Cash’s signature black, does a terrific job drawing from inner resources to capture the deep-throated notes for which the singer was known. He also excels in his rapid-fire delivery of “I’ve Been Everywhere” – no small accomplishment.

There’s strong backup by Jacob Fjare, Jacob Huddilston, Sari Greenberg, Abby Vombrack, Jenna Payne and Brandy Miller. They harmonize well in “Sunday Morning Coming Down.”

Jennifer Cupani provided insightful choreography. Credit scenic designer Michael Ost for the barn set; Joanna Szewczuk for the spot-on lighting; and Rachel Parent for the colorful costumes. David Welker led an onstage band.

If you go . . .

Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash’

Where: Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights

When: Through Aug. 28

Tickets: $38

Info: (847) 577-2121 or

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