Though Johnny Cash is remembered as a country music star, he was so much more.

He could sing gospel, folk, blues and rock. Toward the end of his life, he even covered a Nine Inch Nails song, “Hurt.”

That versatility is captured in “Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash,” opening Friday at the Performing Artists Repertory Theatre in Crossroads Mall.

The Broadway musical was created by Richard Maltby Jr. and conceived by William Meade. Rather than featuring a performer portraying Cash, a five-member cast of both men and women tells his life story — from Arkansas cotton fields to the Grand Ole Opry — while performing some of his signature songs.

The cast features Justin Dehmer, Angela Jenson-Frey, Jon Van Horn-Hickerson, Melissa King and Moira Mangiameli. Gordon Cantiello is director and Jennifer Novak-Haar is the music director.

Even though Maltby and Meade didn’t dramatize Cash’s life, they wanted their audience to feel as though they had spent the evening with a real — and extraordinary — man.

“Johnny wrote and sang about the lives we lead, regardless of where we lead them,” Maltby said. “If, watching this show, you feel you are being drawn back to your roots, it’s not accidental.”

Featured songs include “Daddy Sang Bass,” “Jackson” and “If I Were a Carpenter.”

The show runs through Aug. 18.

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Betsie covers a little bit of everything for The World-Herald's Living section, including theater, religion and anything else that might need attention. Phone: 402-444-1267.

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