“Johnny and June” at the New Theater Restaurant is an exceptional and original tribute concert reminiscent of what viewers might have enjoyed at home between the premiere of “Johnny cash TV Show “in 1969 and the final”Johnny cash Christmas special “in 1985.
Broadway World had the chance to spend some time with Johnny cash actor Scott Moreau and learn more about the original Man in Black and the dedicated young actor who brings him back to the afterlife for Kansas City audiences.
Scott Moreau is a tall and likeable man who is about 6’2 “with a deep baritone voice. He is originally from Litchfield, Maine, with a degree in musical theater from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois.
It’s a pleasure to spend some time with Scott like I did on the phone last week. He makes history Johnny cash credit in its performance. I had the pleasure of seeing him and the rest of this great cast with a five-piece band during opening week.
It turns out that I crossed the path of the real Johnny cash a few times in a long newspaper career and (from afar) Scott can easily pass for Cash.
The world of Broadway: How does a guy get started in the business of becoming a Johnny cash tribute artist?
Scott Moreau: Well i was a huge Johnny cash fan from the start. Most of the time I found myself listening Johnny cash music and playing it on my guitar not as a career change, but because I really connected. I found myself playing his music more and more.
Around the same time, the Oscar-winning film “I walk the line” on Cashes performed in theaters and a regional production of a short-lived Broadway musical titled “Ring of Fire” visit.
The world of Broadway: I’ve read that a much more successful jukebox musical is called “Million Dollar Quartet” documented an actual 1956 jam session featuring Johnny cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee lewis and Carl Perkins at Sun Records in Memphis. And you were part of the first touring cast of “MDQ? “
Scott Moreau: I under-researched Johnny and played Fin Phillips in that first touring company of “Million Dollar Quartet” for two years in 2010 and 2011. During the third and fourth years I took over the role full time on the Union Tour (Actors’ Equity). I got more involved in his music and saw as many shows as possible. The rest is kind of a story. You finally become Johnny cash after a lot of hard work.
The world of Broadway: Do you have a direct relationship with the Cash family?
Scott Moreau: I never met the Cash. They died within months of each other in 2003. I met Johnny’s brother, Tommy. I met her little sister Joanne and her daughter, Cindy. I don’t have a direct connection to the Cash domain, but I do have friendships and relationships that I have built over the years.
Over the years, I have researched people and made connections with some who came to see “Million dollar quartet.”
I met Bill Miller and his wife Shannon who are the owners of the Johnny cash Museum in Nashville. They also own the Patsy Cline Museum and the Johnny cash Bar and grill. Bill and Shannon were instrumental in helping me learn who he was and were very kind and courteous.
For the “Johnny cash Tribute shows “ that I did, I compiled a lot of information to put there. For the most part, the stories and anecdotes are taken from Johnny’s autobiography.
The world of Broadway: You first came to the New Theater Restaurant in 2017 as part of their production of “Million dollar quartet.”
Scott Moreau: I knew Denis hennessy and Richard carrothers, the owners of the New Theater restaurant for about five years. The level of technical expertise at New Theater is in the upper echelon of dinner theaters that I have seen across the country. I think it’s because New Theater is able to do so much with lights and projections that other theaters cannot do. It is atypical of other places where I have worked. Overland Park is very lucky to have a place like the New Theater.
The world of Broadway: East “Johnny and June” a whole new show concocted for these audiences?
Scott Moreau: Yes, this is a new show that we have put on for this production only. I had built a “Homage to Johnny & June “ which I had done in Arizona a few times in the winter. Ashley pankow, our June Carter Cash was also in the 2017 production of “Million Dollar Quartet”
Ashley was fearless in her portrayal of June. She goes there and gives everything she has both physically and vocally. I think Ashley makes June stand out at face value.
Our director, Joe Fox, asked me to bring the character of Minnie Pearl into the show to bring something new to the tribute concert. Our Minnie, Cathy barnett, does a great job in the role.
The world of Broadway: What was your guiding idea with director Fox?
We wanted it to appear as if you were watching one of the TVs “Johnny cash Shows “or one of the classics “Nights at the Grand Ole Opry” or an episode of “Hee Haw.” We wanted to bring people back to a concert in the mid-70s or early 80s, when that kind of variety show was on all the time.
The original production of the New Theater Restaurant of “Johnny & June, A Tribute Concert” continues at the New Theater in Overland Park through January 30. Tickets are available on www.newtheatre.com or by phone at 913-649-7469.