The Rep Brings the Funny in October with The Second City, Improv Little Rock, 10Horse Johnson

Remember when Tina Fey was on Saturday Night Live? That was awesome. And then remember when she got her own show? “30 Rock” was even more awesome, with extra helpings of the comedy genius of Alec Baldwin. And then she wrote her memoir Bossypants, which shot immediately to the top of just about every bestseller list?

I admit it’s possible that I like Tina Fey a lot (but totally not in a stalker type of way…stop looking at me like that), but it’s her humble beginnings as a touring cast member for The Second City and her scholarly take on the life skills of improv that made Bossypants such an enjoyable read and cemented my admiration of this unique brand of comedy.

I never missed The Second City when traveling to their home base of Chicago or when they toured in Little Rock, and I’m beyond excited The Rep is bringing back America’s famed comedy troupe in October with their “Laugh Out Loud Tour.”

The Second City launched the careers of Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Gilda Radner and Bill Murray, just to name a few, and each season these tours introduce you to the next generation of the comedy world’s best and brightest in an evening of hilarious sketch comedy and Second City’s trademark improvisation.

I am convinced that I’m going to witness the birth of the next Steve Carell or Tina Fey, and I’ll get to say I saw them at The Rep!

The Rep is also bringing back the wildly popular event, BrewHaHa, on Wednesday, Oct. 12. Brews, pizza and lots of laughs with The Second City here at our newly renovated theatre at 601 Main Street and sponsored by the coolest kids on the downtown block, Sync Weekly. Tickets to BrewHaHa are $30 for all seats, but I hear you might win tickets if you watch Sync’s Facebook page.

The Second City will appear on The Rep’s stage Oct. 12 – Oct. 23 for twelve performances only, Wednesday – Sunday. Improv Little Rock will also crash the party as they join the cast of The Second City for a final improv act on Friday, Oct. 14 and Friday, Oct. 21. Tickets are available at tickets.therep.org and range from $25 – $35, with student tickets $15 with a valid student ID.

In fact, The Rep is bringing a comedy celebration of sorts north of the river to Argenta Community Theatre with a band that has appeared locally before in the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase and fans call “Tenacious D on white lightnin’ moonshine.”

10Horse Johnson is a country comedy band that debuted nationally on the legendary Dr. Demento radio show, sang ‘Lord Please Make My Daddy Burt Reynolds’ for the iconic superstar on an NBC sitcom and wrote and performed the Sirius XM Playboy Radio Night Calls theme, ‘Talk Purty to Me.’

10Horse serves up all-original, side-splitting satellite radio and cable TV-ready country. They’ve attracted such players to the group as Mark Hart (‘Crowded House,’ ‘Supertramp’) and the late Jerry Rightmer (‘Sanford-Townsend Band,’ ‘Seals & Croft’). You can read more about 10Horse on their Facebook page.

10Horse Johnson will appear at Argenta Community Theatre for four performances only Oct. 20 – Oct. 22. Tickets are $10 for the Wednesday preview and $20 for the rest of the performances and will be available at tickets.therep.org.

The Rep is bringing the funny in October, so come make laughs with us!

 

Girls Night Out at The Rep featuring Vesta’s

Girls Night Out at The Rep on Wednesday, October 5 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. featuring the fun and funky fashions of Vesta’s. Shop the hottest designer brands in The Rep’s new bar, Foster’s, then at 7:00 p.m. enjoy Ring of Fire, The Music of Johnny Cash in our newly-renovated theatre.

I recently caught up with the ladies of Vesta’s to discuss their new fall collection. “We love our new lines we’ve bought for fall. Great jeans, and soft cashmere sweaters worn with a great pair of Old Gringo cowboy boots,” says Lila Ashmore, Marketing Manager for Vesta’s.

Red Old Gringo cowboy boots available at Girls Night Out

Located in Pleasant Ridge Town Center, Vesta’s is an eclectic lifestyle boutique offering clothing, shoes, handbags, jewelry, bedding, furniture, home accessories and lotions and potions for the body.

In business for 14 years, owner Melissa Tanner always stocks Vesta’s with the latest styles. “I’m crazy about the new cashmere pieces we have from White + Warren this fall. Fun ponchos and luxurious wraps in charcoal and camel can give your closet a punch this season. We are also carrying two new lines of jeans! We have something for everyone.”
Girls Night Out with Vesta’s will have the hottest brands including White+Warren, JJJ Workshirts, Blue Bird, Michael Kors, Alice & Trixie plus Old Gringo and Black Liberty cowboy boots and much more.
Ring of Fire was the perfect show for Vesta’s to partner with The Rep for Girl’s Night Out,” said Ashmore. “We love the ‘Man in Black’.”
Tickets: $40 plus receive a free drink ticket in The Rep’s new bar at Foster’s exclusively for Girl’s Night Out ticket holders. Call The Rep Box Office (501) 378-0405 for tickets and your complimentary drink ticket to Foster’s.

KUAR on The Rep’s Renovation, Ring of Fire

Photography by Guy Galloway

Take a listen as Ron Breeding talks with Rep Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp and Ring of Fire Director Jason Edwards on the recently completed Rep Renovations and the season opener Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash.

Or you can read the article here.

 

 

 

 

 

Ring of Fire: Song by Song

Read more about each song featured in The Rep’s production of Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash, including label and release dates, sample lyrics and background information.

“Country Boy”
Songwriter: John R. Cash
Label and release date: Sun, 1957
Sample lyric: “Country boy/Ain’t got no wills/Country boy/You don’t owe no bills”
Note: “Country Boy,” an exceptionally short tune running only 1:49 on record, was on Cash’s debut, Johnny Cash With His Hot and Blue Guitar. This was the first full album put out by Memphis’ Sun records. Also, Cash had the songwriting credit listed under his birth name.

“Flesh and Blood”
Songwriter: Johnny Cash
Label and release date: Columbia, 1970
Sample lyric: “Mother Nature’s quite a lady/But you’re the one I need/Flesh and blood need flesh and blood/And you’re the one I need”

“While I’ve Got It On My Mind”
Songwriter: Johnny Cash
Label and release date: Columbia, 1974
Sample lyric: “Now boys don’t you be rambling free/And leaving your girls to cry/Cause the nights are cold and there ain’t no gold/That’ll ever satisfy”

“Five Feet High and Rising”
Songwriter: John R. Cash
Label and release date: Sun, 1959
Note: The song is based on a real event, the 1937 flood that forced the evacuation of the Dyess Colony where the Cash family lived and worked.

“In the Sweet By and By”
Songwriters: S. Fillmore Bennett and Joseph P. Webster
Label and release date: Columbia, 1975
Note: Cash’s first recording of the 1868 Christian hymn was for the gospel album, Sings Precious Memories. Cash had tried and failed to convince Sam Phillips, head of the Memphis Sun label, to let him record a gospel music. When Cash moved to Columbia (with a number of hits under his belt), his wish was granted. Sings Precious Memories was his fifth gospel album for Columbia.

“Daddy Sang Bass”
Songwriter: Carl Perkins
Label and release date: Columbia, 1968
Note: Rockabilly star Perkins wrote this song about a family united through gospel music for Cash, his friend and tour mate. Perkins credited Cash for renewing his faith and recovery from alcohol addiction.

“I Still Miss Someone”
Songwriters: Johnny Cash and brother Roy Cash
Label and release date: Columbia, 1958
Sample lyric: “I wonder if she’s sorry/For leavin’ what we’d begun/There’s someone for me somewhere/And I still miss somewhere”

“Tennessee Flat Top Box”
Songwriter: Johnny Cash
Label and release date: Columbia, 1961
Note: In 1987 Johnny’s daughter Roseanne Cash had a chart-topping hit with her cover of “Tennessee Flat Box.” Roseanne, given the song by her then husband Rodney Crowell, wasn’t aware at the time that it was written by her father.

“Straight A’s in Love”
Songwriter: John R. Cash
Label and release date: Sun, 1959
Sample lyric: “Oh, my grades are low on my card, I know/But they oughta give me one above/If they’d give me a mark for learnin’ in the dark/I’d have straight A’s in love”

“Big River”
Songwriter: John R. Cash
Label and release date: Sun, 1958
Note: “Big River” was the last song on Cash’s second album, Johnny Cash Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous. The Tennessee Two’s insistent, thumping beat coupled with Cash’s vocals — particularly powerful with more than a hint of danger — make “Big River” a standout song.

“Tear Stained Letter”
Songwriter: Johnny Cash
Label and release date: Columbia, 1972
Note: Cash recorded this brooding love song twice — first for the Columbia album, A Thing Called Love and then for American IV: The Man Comes Around, the final album that would be released while Cash was alive.

“Get Rhythm”
Songwriter: John R. Cash
Label and release date: Sun, 1956
Note: The B-side to “I Walk the Line” is an uptempo piece of optimism, the rhythm produced by a “shoeshine boy” to ward off the blues. Cash demonstrates that his material can come from almost any part of life.

“Egg Suckin’ Dog”
Songwriter: Jack H. Clement
Label and release date: Columbia, 1966
Note: One of Cash’s great strengths was his enthusiasm in tackling novelty songs like this one and “A Boy Named Sue.” This tune, which debuted on Everybody Loves a Nut, was written by Clement, who started out as a producer and engineer at Sun Records. Clement wrote a number of hits for Cash including “Guess Things Happen That Way.”

“Oh Come, Angel Band”
Songwriter: Johnny Cash
Label and release date: Cachet/Columbia, 1979
Sample lyric: “My triumph is begun/Oh come, angel band/Come around me and stand/Oh, bear me away on your snow white wings”

“Flushed from the Bathroom of My Heart”
Songwriter: Jack H. Clement
Label and release date: Columbia, 1968
Note: One of a couple of novelty songs on the live At Folsom Prison album. At Folsom Prison, a critical and commercial success, marked a turning point in Cash’s career. Cash said “that’s where things got started for me again.”

“If I Were a Carpenter”
Songwriter: Tim Hardin
Label and release date: Columbia, 1970
Note: A duet between Johnny and June Carter that was awarded a Grammy in 1971 for Best Country Performance by Duo or Group with Vocal.

“Ring of Fire”
Songwriters: June Carter Cash and Merle Kilgore
Label and release date: Columbia, 1963
Note: The biggest hit of Cash’s career was first performed by June’s sister, Anita Carter, and was titled “(Love’s) Ring of Fire.” Cash told Anita that he would give her version time to catch on and become popular but, if it didn’t, then he would record it the way he wanted. Of course, Cash did just that with the flourish of mariachi horns (which he later claimed came to him in a dream) being the most distinctive element of any Cash song and arguably any in the history of country music. Cash’s “Ring of Fire” invariably lands on lists of greatest songs — in 2003 CMT put it at number 4 in its 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music.

“I’ve Been Everywhere”
Songwriter: Geoff Mack
Label and release date: American, 1996
Note: This Cash cover of  a signature song for country star Hank Snow appeared on the Unchained album. It was the second album where Cash teamed with producer Rick Rubin, who had produced the Beasties Boys and Red Hot Chili Peppers among many others.

“Cry, Cry, Cry”
Songwriter: John R. Cash
Label and release date: Sun, 1955
Note: The song that Cash supposedly wrote overnight to impress Sam Phillips at Sun after “Hey Porter” did not sell. It did the trick and a number of hits for Cash at Sun followed.

“Sunday Morning Coming Down”
Songwriter: Kris Kristofferson
Label and release date: Columbia, 1970
Note: Ray Stevens released and was able to chart his version of this Kristofferson song one year before Cash. But Cash, backed by a sweeping arrangement of lush strings, made the song his, winning Country Music Association’s “Song of the Year” award in 1970.

“Going to Memphis”
Songwriters: Johnny Cash, Hollie Dew and Alan Lomax
Label and release date: Columbia, 1960
Sample lyric: “Like a bitter weed, I’m a bad seed/But when that levee’s through I am too/Let the honky tonk roll on/Come mornin’ I’ll be gone”

“Delia’s Gone”
Songwriters: Karl Silbersdorf and Dick Toops
Label and release date: Columbia, 1962
Note: Cash recorded this dark ballad of murder for The Sound of Johnny Cash and then for his 1994 comeback American Recordings. This and “Cocaine Blues” would be contenders for the darkest material Cash ever put to record. The song is based on the real life murder of Delia Green in 1900 and several artists have written or sung about the crime.

“Orleans Parish Prison”
Songwriter: Dick Feller
Label and release date: Columbia, 1973
Sample lyric: “Well, have you missed my brother man/He took a little money with a gun in his hand/Know the kids are hungry and the wife ain’t well/And the daddy’s locked up in a prison cell”

“Folsom Prison Blues”
Songwriter: John R. Cash
Label and release date:  Sun, 1956
Note: One has to think that if Cash had done nothing else but leave this song to the world, then he would still have a noted reputation. But “Folsom Prison Blues,” one of his early songs for Sun and then a key part of his At Folsom Prison live, is where Cash stands out less as a hit maker and more as a songwriter. The details here of the man stuck in prison while the world moves around him are perfect, from the chilling “I shot a man in Reno/Just to watch him die” to the less quoted “I know I had it comin’/I know I can’t be free.”

“Man in Black”
Songwriter: Johnny Cash
Label and release date: Columbia, 1971
Note: Part of Cash’s greatness comes from the fact that he recorded lots of novelty songs as well as protest numbers like this one. “Man in Black” is hardly the most artful song in Cash’s catalog but few if any country stars then or now were so vocal about social concerns. In many ways, these protest songs put Cash firmly in the folk camp and made him a significant figure transcending genre boundaries.

“All Over Again”
Songwriter: Johnny Cash
Label and release date: Columbia, 1958
Sample lyric: “I want to fall in love again beginning from the start/All over again/Show me how you stole away my heart/All over again”

“Boy Named Sue”
Songwriter: Shel Silverstein
Label and release date: Columbia, 1969
Note: The big hit off of At San Quentin, a song that Cash had only recently received and needed a cheat sheet to perform for the prisoners in San Quentin.

“Jackson”
Songwriters: Jerry Leiber and Billy Edd Wheeler
Label and release date: Columbia, 1967
Note: This duet with June Carter Cash — though not written by Johnny or June — captures the spirit and spark of the pair. It quickly became their signature duet. June, who had studied acting under noted acting guru Lee Strasberg, puts on a show in this tune.

“I Walk the Line”
Songwriter: John R. Cash,
Label and release date: Sun, 1956
Note: Cash’s first big hit and work that established the singer-songwriter’s unrivaled place in popular music. In 2004 Rolling Stone put it at number 30 in  their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
“It was different than anything else you had ever heard,” Bob Dylan told Rolling Stone about the song. “A voice from the middle of the Earth.”

“The Far Side Banks of Jordan”
Songwriter: Terry Stephen Smith
Label and release date: Columbia, 1976
Sample lyric: “Through this life we’ve labored hard to earn our meager fare/It’s brought us trembling hands and failing eyes/So I’ll just rest here on this shore and turn my eyes away/Until you come, then we’ll see paradise”

“Why Me, Lord”
Songwriter: Kris Kristofferson
Label and release date: American, 1994
Note: This song about redemption was a rare country hit for Kristofferson in 1973. Cash recorded it for American Recordings, his first album with Rick Rubin as producer.

“Hey Porter”
Songwriter: John R. Cash
Label and release date: Sun, 1955
Note: It wasn’t the hit that Sam Phillips at Sun was hoping for and it wasn’t even on Cash’s debut. But it was the one of the first songs young Cash would write, which he did on his way back from being stationed in Germany. “Hey Porter” captures the great excitement of Cash returning home to Arkansas.

Jason Edwards on Johnny Cash

Jason Edwards starred on Broadway in Ring of Fire, The Music of Johnny Cash at the Barrymore Theatre, and is featured on the original cast recording produced by John Carter Cash. Jason is directing and starring in Ring of Fire at Arkansas Repertory Theatre Sept. 14 through Oct. 9. Photography by Cindy Momchilov.

Like many other singers and musicians who come from rural American places, young J.R. Cash learned to sing and play guitar from listening to old hymns.

When he first arrived at Sun Studios in Memphis as a young aspiring performer, his hopes were to land a record deal as a Gospel singer. After his first audition, Producer Sam Phillips told him that Gospel music wouldn’t sell records and to come back when he had written something that would. So he left and wrote “Cry, Cry, Cry” and “Hey Porter.”

He returned to Memphis and these two songs became his first recordings for Sun. Needless to say, the rest is history. Hundreds of hits followed, and also the birth of the rockabilly sound.

From a dirt-poor boy who grew up on a cotton farm to a rock’n’roll icon and country outlaw, underneath his image and fame as “The Man in Black” was a very patriotic American and a deeply spiritual Christian man. Throughout his life, he battled with demons and sang to angels, but he never lost sight of who he was or where he came from. He wrote and sang about what he knew and believed in—the things and people thatwere most important to him. To many, he was the voice of the forgotten and overlooked. Near the end of his life he recorded an album of Gospel songs his mother sang called “My Mother’s Hymn Book,” and of all his recordings he considered this his finest work.

Ring of Fire, The Music of Johnny Cash is a collection of Mr. Cash’s enormous catalog and variety of songs. It is the only theatrical show he ever gave his approval for and endorsed. William Meade and Richard Maltby, Jr.’s concept was never to have someone impersonate Mr. Cash, but to get underneath his image and present what he was trying to say in his lyrics. And to select performers who in some way might convey the essence of his southern style and roots.

It’s our pleasure to perform for you and celebrate some of the words and music of Mr. John R. Cash.

— Jason Edwards