April 17, 2006

Ring of Fire

Ring of Fire MarquisFriday night, I started working my new old part-time job. My first assignment was Ring of Fire at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. Ring of Fire is a revue of music recorded by Johnny Cash. I say recorded by and not written by because when you look at the program, you realize that at least of 40% of his hits were written by other musicians. It's a decent production. There are 3 couples who do most of the performing - very young, young and not so young. I guess you don't have to be a genius to figure out that the three couples represent Johnny and June Cash at different times in their lives. Then there are 9 other musicians who perform right on stage with the cast. They sing and dance right along with the triple threats who make up the main corps. It's a talented bunch of people. All 3 male leads and at least 1 of the female can play guitar and sing and act and dance all seemingly at the same time.

There's a loose story that ties all the songs together about a guy travelling on a train that at the beginning of the revue he hears rolling - rollin' round the bend. This allows the cast to travel in time from the beginning of Johnny's career to the end.

Some of it is a little hokey but that's typical of a Broadway show that is meant for all ages. Like a Bugs Bunny cartoon, there was a little physical humour to appeal to the younger and less cerebral members of the audience. The edgier points are inferred from the music and the acting that was being done simultaneously with the singing. One of the funnier numbers is sung by one of the cast members performing as a prisoner in Folsom Prison - about how he missed Delia, the woman that he loved and then killed.

The most popular number was definitely I've Been Everywhere, Man. It starts slowly with 3 guitar players performing the main theme and ends with all 12 cast members on stage, each playing the guitar although I suspect that only 8 of them were really playing. So popular in fact that the people who sell the show's souvenirs made a T-shirt with that specific phrase.

As with all Broadway shows, Ring of Fire has a gimmicky, hokey souvenir stand called The General Store done up in a Western fashion to match the flavor of the show. The General Store

Here is the beautiful (not so beautiful) I've Been Everywhere, Man t-shirt complete with all the destinations where the singers have been.
I've Been Everywhere

This normally plain brown t-shirt is a 50/50 cotton/poly blend, yet if look closely at the sign,
The Sign
you'll see that this cheap little t-shirt cost $30.00. Yes. $30.00 is what it says and while I stood at my booth waiting to hand out headsets, I witnessed many people buying them two and three at a time.

Speaking of my booth, I bet you're having a hard time wrapping your mind around what it is I'm doing exactly. Basically, I work for a company that provides a free service to those that are having trouble hearing. During the half hour before the show while people are walking in and during intermission, I stand in front of this booth and wait for people to come over to me and request a headset.
My booth
Each of those yellow dots is a piece of tape with a number that helps keep track of the headsets.

The patron gives me a license usually that I hold while they enjoy the show with device. At the end of the show, we make a final exchange and they go on their merry way.

In the between times, I am free to watch the show if I choose. I chose to do it on Sunday. Although I listened to the show during the shifts previous to that. Now, I understand that country music isn't for everybody. What I don't understand is why this show received bad reviews.

It's good for what it is. I recommend it to those of you that like the music of Johnny Cash or country music in general. If you thought that typical Broadway wasn't for you because the musical style threatens your heterosexuality, then this show is for you. Because it is the least gay Broadway musical I have ever seen.

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