Re-Conceived RING OF FIRE Musical to Premiere at Milwaukee Rep, 3/1-5/5
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by BWW News Desk
From the iconic songbook of Johnny Cash comes this unique musical about love and faith, struggle and success, rowdiness and redemption, and home and family. More than two dozen classic hits - including "I Walk the Line," "A Boy Named Sue," "Folsom Prison Blues," and the title tune - performed by a multi-talented cast, paint a musical portrait of The Man in Black that promises to be a foot-stompin', crowd-pleasin' salute to a uniquely American legend! Richard Maltby, Jr. created the piece and will also direct The Rep's production. It was originally conceived by William Meade with orchestrations by Steven Bishop and Jeff Lisenby. Malty is re-conceiving his Johnny Cash tribute specifically for a five-member ensemble for The Rep's Stackner Cabaret. The cast features Trenna Barnes, Eddie Clendening, Jason Edwards, David Miles Keenan and Mark W. Winchester, who are all making their Rep debuts. Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash runs in the Stackner Cabaret from March 1 - May 5, and opens Sunday, March 3.
"Prior to coming to America, I'd never paid much attention to country music," says Artistic Director Mark Clements. "But it's now become a style that I absolutely love. Johnny Cash is so influential to so many musicians across so many genres, and Ring of Fire treats us to all of those legendary, great songs, while giving us a snapshot into his life. It's a celebration of his soul-stirring music - really good stuff!"
"Most of the songs in the show are songs people already know," says creator/director Richard Maltby, Jr. "And yet put together in an evening, they tell a story. Johnny had the soul of a poet, and when you listen to these songs together you hear something in them that is surprising. It's the story of America. Perhaps it is an America that doesn't exist anymore, but it certainly exists in our American mythology."
Ring of Fire premiered at the Studio Arena Theatre in Buffalo, New York in 2005. The original Broadway production opened on March 12, 2006 and was produced by William Meade, CTM Productions, Bob Cuillo, GFOUR Productions and James B. Freydberg at Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
Trenna Barnes (performer), is making her Rep debut, and has previously performed Ring of Fire at Denver Center Theatre Company, Arkansas Repertory Theatre and Cabrillo Music Theatre; she is the lead singer/songwriter for the all-girl band Cowboy Crush, and has performed with Charlie Daniels, Huey Lewis, Kid Rock and Big & Rich, among others; Eddie Clendening (performer), also making his Rep debut, has played alongside many original Rock & Roll and Country pioneers from the '50s and '60s and toured as a featured guitarist/vocalist in several internationally-known combos; he originated the role of Elvis in Million Dollar Quartet on Broadway, and performs regularly with his band, Eddie Clendening & the Blue Ribbon Boys; Jason Edwards (performer/Assistant Director), also making his Rep debut, has Broadway credits which include Ring of Fire (original cast and recording); Off-Broadway credits include: Of Mice and Men and Johnny Guitar (original cast and recording); regional credits include performances at Denver Center Theatre Company, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and Actors Theatre of Louisville, among others; David Miles Keenan (performer), also making his Rep debut, was co-musical director for Woodie Guthrie's American Song at the Arizona Theatre Company, and was a featured instrumentalist in Mama Hated Diesels for the Denver Performing Arts Center; he also performs regularly with several different bands in his hometown of Seattle; Mark W. Winchester (performer), also making his Rep debut, is a singer, hit songwriter and award-winning upright bass player; he played bass in Emmylou Harris' Grammy Award-winning acoustic band the Nash Ramblers, and his song "Would I?" ranked in the top 20 on the Billboard Country Charts when it was covered by Randy Travis.
The Creative Team for Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash includes: Richard Maltby, Jr. (Director/Creator), see bio below; Jeff Lisenby (Musical Director/Orchestrations), who performed in Ring of Fire on Broadway; his national touring credits include Wicked and Jersey Boys; as a musician, he has toured with Boots Randolph and Brenda Lee and has accompanied Pavarotti, Blake Shelton and Dolly Parton, among others; Megan Truscott (Scenic Designer), a Chicago-based designer, recently designed The Rep's production of Blues In the Night; she is a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University; Holly Payne (Costume Designer), is The Rep's current Costume Director; favorite Rep credits include Lombardi, The Bomb-itty of Errors and Speaking in Tongues; regional credits include Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks and Milwaukee Shakespeare, among others; Lee Fiskness (Lighting Designer), previously designed lights for Song Man Dance Man, Liberace! and Soultime: At The Apollo at The Rep; regional credits include Lookingglass Theatre Company, Northlight Theatre, American Blues Theatre and the Santa Fe Opera, where he served as Lighting Supervisor for ten years; Ray Nardelli (Sound Designer) has designed The Rep's productions of Radio Golf, The Government Inspector, Trouble in Mind, The Night Is A Child, Cyrano de Bergerac and The Story; Off-Broadway credits include Lookingglass Alice and his regional credits include Steppenwolf Theatre Company and McCarter Theatre Center, among others; Emily Maltby (Choreographer), the daughter of Richard Maltby, Jr., recently directed and choreographed at New World Stages, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Two River Theatre Company and Northwestern University; Sandy Ernst (Casting Director), is The Rep's Associate Artistic Director, the Artistic Intern Company Director, and has served as The Rep's Casting Director for over a decade; she formerly served as a member of the directing staff and as the Production Stage Manager at American Players Theatre; Rebecca Lindsay (Stage Manager), returns to The Rep after starting her professional career with an internship there in the 2005/06 Season; credits include Sense and Sensibility, Next to Normal, Half Life and Guys on Ice; Briana J. Fahey (Stage Manager), is in her tenth season at The Rep; her most recent Rep credits include A Christmas Carol and Assassins; her regional credits include California Shakespeare Theatre, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Magic Theatre and Center REPertory Theatre; Kaitlin Kitzmiller (Stage Management Intern), a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, her recent credits include Ballet Nebraska, BravO! National Dance and Talent Competition, SkullDuggery Productions and Nebraska Shakespeare.
Tickets for Ring of Fire start at $35.00. Single Tickets for all of Milwaukee Repertory Theater's 2012/13 productions are now on sale and can be purchased online 24/7 at www.MilwaukeeRep.com, through The Rep's Ticket Office by calling 414-224-9490 or in person at 108 E. Wells Street. Group tickets are also available for purchase by calling Patron Relations Manager Christine Yundem at 414-290-5340.
To learn more about The Rep or its productions, please visit www.MilwaukeeRep.com.