By Lori Kimbel
Ring of Fire debuted the last weekend in April at the Historic Elgin Opera House. It depicts Johnny Cash’s remarkable life story, and is told through his music.The cast and crew at the Elgin Opera House once again put on a performance that will be hard to beat. I don’t know how they do it, but they manage to improve on perfection time and again. It really was an unforgettable performance by each and every member of the cast.
My mom always had music playing when I was a kid. Elvis, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Pardon, The Oak Ridge Boys, Alabama, Charley Pride and of course Johnny Cash. Family legend has it that my dad watched Johnny Cash perform in a wheat field before he became famous, so Johnny has been a part of my life my entire life. To experience this man, who was so troubled, so loved, so generous, and so talented, in an entirely new way was a highlight of my week, and I’ve had a dang good week.
When I know I am going to write something about the plays at the Elgin Opera House I look for the stand out actor, the one that really steals the show. Right away I knew who it was….at least I thought I did. As the show continued I realized they were all stealing the show; each and every actor gave a stand out performance; there was no best of the best. It was that good and the talent was that strong. I was however personally moved by I Still Miss Someone, performed by Jocelyn Berado and Ashley O’Toole, and Janis Carper’s rendition of Sunday Morning Coming Down was also absolutely beautiful.
Brent and Jeannette Smith are both so talented and the Opera House is so blessed to have them as part of the Opera House family. Jeannette is always a ray of sunshine on stage and Brent’s version of Johnny Cash was completely believable. Ashley O’Toole portrayed the younger version of Johnny, and he owned the stage whenever he stepped onto it. Lyle Witherite did an amazing job with 25 Minutes to Go, and for a guy about to die he was full of energy and really left it all out on the stage.Ted Hays soulful performance of Why Me was incredible and very touching. Cry! Cry! Cry! performed by Staci Lynn Elguezabal was truly fabulous. Tucker Murphy was the master of music whether he was singing, or playing whichever instrument that happened to be in his hands. Steve Tognoli also did a stand out job each time he performed. Gia Tognoli was adorable as she sang Tennessee Flat Top Box alongside Jeannette Smith. Teresa Zyla, Maddie Hale, Abby Hale, Naomi Medly, and Gia Tognoli were great as the Carter family and Brady Morgan played the fiddle like a pro and left the audience wanting more.
The chorus was also simply amazing. This group of people sang their hearts out and they were spot on time and time again.
Of course I cannot leave out the band. Andy Steele on drums, Roger Barnes on bass, and Luke McKern on guitar tied the performances together as they gave just the right amount of accompaniment. Their solos were amazing and I’m looking forward to watching them play again before it has run its course.
I cannot say enough good things about Ring of Fire, or the Elgin Opera House. If you haven’t seen the play….you really need to call Carol at 541-663-6324 to reserve your tickets, and if you have seen it, for goodness sakes…go see it again, I know I am going to. Speaking of Carol, she really is an amazing woman. She works hard to make sure the seats are filled for every performance, even on those days when the world seems to be crashing down upon her. Thank you Carol for all you do for Elgin and the Elgin Opera House.
Terry Hale….Kudos my friend. You have taken this brick building that holds so many cherished memories to so many people and turned it into something even more spectacular. The play tonight was world class and I believe it is only a matter of time before the Elgin Opera House really gets discovered and become a must see Oregon destination. I am so glad that you and Stephanie decided to move to Elgin and raise your family here. You have changed the course of our beloved town and I could not be more thrilled. I’m proud to call you my friend and I am excited to see what the next ten years brings.
By Lori Kimbel