Ring of Fire
Created by Richard Maltby, Jr.
Conceived by William Meade.
Based on the life of Johnny Cash.
Thingamajig Theatre Company, 2019
Director: Christopher Willard
Music Director: Boni McIntyre
Set Designer: Matthew D. McCarren
Costume Designer: Nanette Cheffers
Sound Designer: Michaela Pietrinferno
Projection Designer: Brian Freeland
Scenic Artist: Jill Fives
Prod. Stage Managers: Amanda
Calcutt, Samantha Rohr
Photography by Elaine Wong.
This production was performed in repertory with a shared lighting plot with two other productions, Jekyll & Hyde and Mamma Mia.
To help give the production an overarching narrative, director Christopher Willard focused on the retrospective aspect of the musical, with an older Johnny Cash embarking on a train to journey through the various stations and events of his life, ending finally at the promised land. With an older, reflective Johnny, and a younger optimistic Johnny, the remaining three performers form various characters throughout the Ensemble. The motif of train travel, reflected in the scenic and projection design, encouraged the audience to notice how the landscape of the country itself had shaped one of America's great legends.
The lighting design aimed to capture that feeling of Americana, ranging from the cloud-speckled blue skies of Cash's childhood Arkansas farm, to the golden aspirations of Sun Records in Memphis, to the saturated desert sunsets of the southwest, to the bristling heat of the chain gang. Emotionally, the design sought to balance both the nostalgia and romanticism of an aspiring musician, with the harsher reality of what hardships a life of touring can actually create.