THUNDER BAY, ON --- Sept 17, 2015 --- This show is Titled “Ring of Fire”, the music of Johnny Cash and that is exactly what Thunder Bay’s Magnus theatre delivered. The show begins with an orange background that reminded me of a large Halloween pumpkin. Randomly the image was changed with bursts of sound until a man with a guitar in hand came onstage and introduced himself as Johnny Cash. Three more men also came on stage introducing themselves as Johnny Cash and one woman, also Johnny Cash. In this photo Hillary June Hart and Danny Johnson appear in full guitar strumming song.
Each season I collect the ticket stubs of the memorable concerts that I attend. As a reviewer I see quite a lot. By spring time there is a considerable collection of ticket stubs and over a glass of wine or two I contemplate the best concerts of the season. I have been reviewing Magnus since 2009 and by now I have nearly run out of good things to say about the Theatre, except to say for me as an original seat sponsor it is a dream come true. Now in my lifetime people from Thunder Bay can come and witness live theatre which is as good as live theatre gets anywhere. I do not need to travel long distances to enjoy first class theatre.
As a musician I am particularly fond of the musical productions at Magnus. I have found in the past that any show that involves Danny Johnson is likely to be a great production. Under his direction the music seems to come from the heart. Certainly tonight the musicians seemed to be enjoying themselves. Mario Crudo and Danny Johnson have assembled a musical cast absolute astounding musical talents. While most of the musicians on stage played up to and more than five musical instruments during the performance, each musician was particularly skilled at their favourite instrument. On pieces where they had the opportunity to shine on their best instrument, the other musicians seemed to feed on the strength of one another’s performance. For a brief moment in time, just the privilege of playing in such a talented production might be reward enough. You could tell that the musicians were having a great time on stage, and that meant that the audience also was soaking up the atmosphere.
Joining Danny and Hillary on stage were Dan Zadkovich, Joshua Wiles, and Lawrence Cotton. This band delivers an inspired performance of the music of Johnny Cash in a way Cash might have wished. Perhaps the man himself was more of a character than a musician. I have a feeling some of the more classically trained musicians on stage had a tough time putting the country into their songs but in the end they managed. There is no way that the man himself ever could sing like this crew can.
There is no narrative to this production, other than a few lines spoken now and then by one of the five Johnny Cashes on stage. Simply the music starts at the beginning of his career and the show ends with some songs from the end of his career. The story of Johnny Cash is told by his music. When I was younger you might say that musically I was on another planet compared to JC. What I really liked about the present performance is it filled me in on all the Johnny Cash tunes that I had missed in my youth.
I am sure that Mario Crudo has chosen a production that will resound with the people in Thunder Bay, Magnus Theatre needs a strong production at this time because the last days of summer are still lingering and we love our summers. I will keep my ticket stub as a reminder of one great performance. The dream of great live theatre in the city where we live makes me glad that I supported the seat sale campaign for Magnus Theatre so many seasons ago. It is simply a dream come true. My guess is if you want to see this production you had better get your tickets early. Call the box office at 807 345 5552.
Arts Editor: LakeSuperiorNews.com