The Man in Black will soon be coming to the Great White Way.
Production on "Ring of Fire," a Broadway musical based on the life and times of Johnny Cash, is under way and expected to debut next year.
"Ring of Fire" tells the story Cash's entire life through more than 49 of his songs, from "A Boy Named Sue" to "Folsom Prison Blues." The play is in the early stages of creative development, though a final script has been written by Tony winner Richard Maltby Jr., who will also direct.
"The story is carried through the lyrics of the songs, because he was the icon of American music," said Randy Bloom, general manager of Phoenix Productions, the company that is co-producing "Ring." "Johnny's life was extremely multifaceted; from prison and drug abuse to born-again and obscurity, to stardom and back to obscurity again, and then a resurgence prior to his death."
Bloom said the play will preview in a few select cities next fall, before settling into a Broadway run later in the year.
"Ring of Fire" is the second major production about the country legend slated for 2005; "Walk the Line," a feature film starring Joaquin Phoenix as Cash and Reese Witherspoon as his late wife, June Carter Cash, is scheduled to hit screens in the spring (see "Reese Witherspoon's Most Horrifying Experience Ever? Singing").
Shooting for the film took place primarily in Memphis and wrapped on schedule last week, contrary to some reports that said Phoenix — a notorious method actor — had suffered a breakdown while filming a particularly emotional scene where Cash learns of his brother's death. A spokesperson for 20th Century Fox denied the breakdown and said production on the film has now shifted to Hollywood.
For a full-length feature on the life of Johnny Cash, check out Kurt Loder's "Johnny Cash: Original Gangsta."