News Column

Theater Review: the Man in Black in Good Company

June 27, 2013


June 27--Six vocally gifted performers took over the Riverside Dinner Theatre stage this weekend in "Ring of Fire," channeling the late, great Johnny Cash with a theatrical, modern twist.

This show was no "Walk the Line" rendition, but instead a tribute to the music and life of the Man in Black.

The allure of the show was rooted in the unique portrayal of each song; many were turned into group numbers, like the well-known "Walk the Line," which the six cast members sang together.

There were no designated "parts" in the show, but instead each actor embodied multiple parts when necessary.

Through Cash's music the cast explored the length of his life, from growing up in Arkansas, meeting June Carter for the first time and dealing with drugs.

The cast members, while not all possessing Cash's deep, brooding vocals, were impressive, with each bringing a different sound to the stage.

Experienced and talented Kathy Halenda displayed a booming voice throughout, at times playing the part of Cash's mother and June Carter. More than once she acknowledged the band during breaks in songs, and she connected emotionally to each song, whether it was a heartfelt ballad or an upbeat dance number.

With his deep voice, Pat Moore re-created the Cash sound most realistically, mastering the low tones in "Ring of Fire." Moore also showed off his talents on the electric guitar in multiple songs.

In her first main-stage show at 17, home-schooled high school graduate Stephany Glenn showed the poise and talent of a veteran actor and singer. In a hilarious rendition of "Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart," Glenn charmed the audience with a thick, convincing Southern twang while playing guitar.

Glenn partnered with Riverside newcomer Sarah Beth Solop in "Jackson," showing off an impressive range with a sassy attitude.

Solop's beautiful voice also stood out in the show, harmonizing effortlessly in ballads like "Sunday Morning Coming Down."

In the entertaining crowd-pleaser "A Boy Named Sue," recent VCU graduate Brent Gallahan and veteran performer Blaine Sumler partnered with Moore for a convincing rendition of the story about an angry son seeking revenge. The number followed the trend of the night: wonderfully trained voices nicely complemented by good acting.

The performance gave the opportunity for more than 150 guests to clap along with old country classics through a welcoming cast of actors sure to continue to please ears everywhere.

What: "Ring of Fire: The Johnny Cash Musical Show"

Where: Riverside Dinner Theatre, 95 Riverside Parkway, Fredericksburg

When: Wednesdays Sundays; through July 21

Cost: $40 $60

Info: 540/370-4300;

Regina Weiss: 540/374-5417


(c)2013 The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.)

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