In 2005, Studio Arena Theatre staged what appeared at the time to be one of the more promising pieces of Buffalo-born theater in recent history.
That local hit, conceived by William Meade and written and directed by Richard Maltby Jr., was the jukebox show “Ring of Fire,” which was based on the songs of Johnny Cash. Its Buffalo debut was well-reviewed, but its subsequent transfer to Broadway the next year was a flop, closing after 57 performances and 38 previews.
Now, 10 years after that well-remembered Studio Arena production, a pared-down and retooled version of the locally beloved but nationally forgotten show has returned to MusicalFare Theatre. The new version, which features a smaller cast each of whom plays an instrument, opens Jan. 27 and runs through Feb. 28.
With some of the more than 30 songs written or popularized by the country-crossover legend Cash, the show takes theatergoers on an abstract journey through the life and times of a songwriter, from idealistic youth to the difficulties of later life.
“I think it’s going to have life when people become more aware of it, because it’s eminently doable,” said MusicalFare Theatre founder and director Randall Kramer, who added that the new approach “allows the music really to be center in the production.”
MusicalFare’s production, which follows a rehashed version that debuted at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre in 2013, is directed by Michael Walline and features Katie Clark, Steve Copps, Kevin Craig, Philip Farugia, Bob Mazierski, Theresa Quin, Zak Ward and Maggie Zindle. Tickets are $43. Call 839-8540 or visit musicalfare.com.