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Georgia Ensemble next to explore inspiration, mystique of Johnny Cash

By Howard Pousner

The durable songs of the late Johnny Cash are proving quite the wellspring of inspiration for other performing arts.

After last weekend’s Atlanta Ballet performances of “The Man in Black,” choreographed by James Kudelka to late-career Cash covers such as the Beatles’ “In My Life,” Georgia Ensemble Theatre will stage “Ring of Fire,” a musical based mainly on Cash classic originals, opening April 12.

Created by Richard Maltby Jr. and conceived by William Mead, the 2006 Broadway musical includes Cash songs such as “A Boy Named Sue,” “I’ve Been Everywhere,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hurt,” “I Walk the Line,” “Man in Black,” and, of course, the title song.

GET artistic director Robert Farley said the Cash songs, informed by his “formidable spirit,” deliver the dramatic goods: “It’s all here … life’s joys, challenges and pain.”

The ensemble cast includes GET veterans Scott DePoy, Denise Hillis, Chris Irwin, Tracy Vaden Moore, Mark Schroeder and, in their debuts with the Roswell troupe, J.R. Hawkins and Jeremy Wood.

Cash, who would have turned 80 in February, also of course inspired the hit 2005 biopic “The Man in Black” starring Joaquin Phoenix. And Cash also is a key character in “Million Dollar Quartet,” which Broadway Across America recently announced it is bringing to the Fox Theatre next March. The Tony-winning musical portrays a legendary early Sun Records recording session in Memphis involving Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins (details:

GET says because of strong advance sales, it’s already added three performances to the “Ring of Fire” run through April 29. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 4 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays. $26-$36. Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest St., Roswell. 770-641-1260,

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