“Man in Black: The Legend of Johnny Cash” celebrates the life and songs of one of country music’s biggest stars.
Robert Shaw, who portrays Cash and wrote the tribute musical revue, had quite a task when putting together the tunes for the show, which plays for two days at Arizona Broadway Theatre.
“We tried to represent his catalog of music as much as we could,” Shaw said. “Many people want to hear his major hits, but there are some chestnuts.”
Shaw’s tribute, which he’ll perform during Cash’s birthday, tells the country singer’s story, backed by his three-piece band and a female singer.
“I wanted to make it respectful and enjoyable,” Shaw said. “It’s more than just a concert but a celebration of his life and what he contributed to music.”
Songs include “Folsom Prison Blues,” “I Walk the Line,” “Ring of Fire,” “A Boy Named Sue,” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” as well as duets made famous by Cash and his wife, June Carter Cash.
Don’t expect an impersonation of Cash from Shaw, though.
“Sometimes when people do these shows, they want to have these funny impersonations or cariactures, but I tried to stay away from that,” Shaw said.
For years, Shaw has performed an Elvis Presley tribute show, but it wasn’t until recently that he chose to do a Cash revue.
“We started getting a lot of requests, so I chose to give it a try,” Shaw said.
In 2005, Shaw said Cash’s profile received a resurgence, particularly with the film “Walk the Line” starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon.
Shaw is no stranger to taking on the role of Cash or Presley. He spent a year as the understudy for both legends in a regional production of the musical “Million Dollar Quartet,” which is now a hit on Broadway.
“I’ve always loved Johnny Cash and his ability to tell a story, and that’s why I love being him and performing his songs,” he said. “And no one else sounds like him.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: “Man in Black: The Legend of Johnny Cash.”
WHERE: Arizona Broadway Theatre, 7701 W. Paradise Lane, Peoria.
WHEN: Feb. 25 and 26.
TICKETS: $55.50 dinner and show; $25, show only.
INFO: Call the box office at 623-776-8400 or visit www.azbroadwaytheatre.com.