By Carolyn Bahm
Johnny Cash was right when he sang, “I’ve been everywhere, man,” because the famous Man in Black took his blue collar rock-and-roll, country, rockabilly and gospel music all around the globe. Now his legacy returns to the Mid-South with a touring Broadway musical on Nov. 2. Two performances are set for the Bartlett Performing Arts and Conference Center this Saturday. “Ring of Fire” will showcase 38 of Cash’s most famous songs about being a fool for love, regretting his sins, fighting in the mud and the blood and the beer, and growing up rough and poor. Audience members will recognize favorites such as “I Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison” and “A Boy Named Sue” among the musical tracings of his life. He’s the bad boy who made good, a Tennessee icon who climbed from the cotton fields of Arkansas to the Grand Ole Opry. “Johnny himself comes from the ranks of the common man,” said BPACC director Ron Jewell. “And he certainly is a rags-to-riches story himself. I think that, in itself, is an American story for so many folks. It’s certainly the American dream we’re all pursuing. He’s one of us who made it.” Cash’s rich bass-baritone voice and evocative lyrics also brought universal themes to life. “I think the songs are filled with a vast array of emotion, from the difficulties and challenges of life down to the rewards of life,” Jewell said. Performances of “Ring of Fire” this Saturday will last for approximately two hours and are appropriate for all ages. The production tours with 16 people, with about a dozen of those in the cast. The touring theater company producing the show is Minneapolis-based Truth America, which has brought several past shows to BPACC. Tickets are still available for both the 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. shows, but Jewell advises calling in now — sales are hotter than a pepper sprout.