Backstage Blog

Behind the Scenes:

An Interview with Michael Monroe Goodman

Michael, you grew up in a musical family just like Johnny Cash did.
How has your family influenced your career as a musician and actor?

"Well I grew up with a grandfather who was Gene Autry disciple and father that played a mean Bluegrass banjo. I would definitely say that explains my desire to be a fast paced cowboy when it comes to Honky Tonkin on stage. "

What inspires you most about playing the role of Johnny Cash?

"The most inspiring part of playing Johnny is the songwriting. Being a songwriter myself, its that desire to illustrate an emotion or a story that really drives me to connect with the audience the same way Johnny did. "

How did you prepare for playing the role of Johnny Cash? How do you balance impersonating a musical icon with your own artistic expression and interpretation of his music?

"I studied his vocal style very intently thru live recordings of him. To play him i tried to understand what motivated him in life and on stage to do all the things he did; what was his goal and what spoke to him in life. "

Michael Monroe Goodman


Behind the Scenes:

An Interview with Cory Goodrich

June Carter Cash was a singer, dancer, songwriter,
actress, comedian, and a mother of three.
What other qualities do you share with her?

"June Carter was a force of nature, and a star on the country music scene long before she met Johnny. She grew up on stage, singing with Mother Maybelle and her sisters Anita and Helen, and June knew that her voice was not as strong as the others, but she knew how to be funny."

'When you don't have much of a voice and harmony is all around you, you reach out and pick something you can use. In my case, it was just plain guts. Since I couldn't sing, I talked a lot and tried to cover up all the bad notes with laughter.' - June Carter in Among My Klediments

What helps you to channel her spirit on the Mercury stage each night?

"I admire her spunk and her energy and her kindness, and I try to channel that amazing light she had that drew everyone to her. She and Johnny fell in love at the worst time in his life. He struggled with addiction, and she was constantly flushing pills down the toilet, trying to keep him on the straight and narrow because she knew the truth of who he was, down deep, and she never gave up on him. Theirs is a love story for the ages."

"June was also quite a modern woman for her time. She did what other women didn’t do in the 1950’s. She was a mother of seven, to her own two girls, Johnny’s four girls with his first wife Vivian, and to Johnny and June’s son, John Carter. She had been divorced twice and was still out on the road, building a career and a life for herself. She proved that you can be an artist AND a mother, and she was really quite a trailblazer. I admire her so deeply, and I feel it’s quite an honor to step into her shoes every night."

Cory Goodrich


Behind the Scenes:

An Interview with Kent M. Lewis

Critics and audiences alike have raved about Kent M. Lewis' portrayal of Johnny Cash as a truly natural expression of his essence, rather than a copycat performance. Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune wrote "Lewis does not wear the cloak of the Man in Black; he inhabits him."

We asked Kent to tell us more about playing the role of American music legend.

Kent, how did you prepare for playing the role of Johnny Cash?

Johnny Cash. Even the name itself evokes trouble and fun all at the same time. The more I learn about Johnny, the more I am fascinated. From humble beginnings and early tragedies, through persistent faith, bridled with self-doubt, on to love, loneliness, and ultimately redemption, Johnny lived a life of epic proportions. It is impossible to represent every facet of his life in thirty songs and some well-placed quotes from his autobiography. But for me, the key to finding my feet in the formidable boots of this Tennessee Troubadour for two hours under the colored lights in a room full of casually curious fans as well as intimated aficionados is this: Remembering that Johnny was just a man; just a person, like me, like you. Now you may never have become addicted to amphetamines and barbiturates, and my brother may not have been taken from me when I was twelve, but most of us have felt the pull of a bad habit, or have seen a friend or loved one go before their time. I have sung with my family, and I have caused pain to those who love me. I've been at times reflective and at times rambunctious. I think part of what makes Johnny's story so universal is that we all relate to it in ways that are particular to each of us and yet resonate through all of us together when Johnny sings words like, "Let that lonesome whistle blow my blues away" or, "Because your mine, I walk the line" or even, "I'm going to Jackson -I'm gonna mess around".

How do you balance impersonating a musical icon with your own artistic expression and interpretation of his music?

As to meshing my own artistic expression with the nuances of bringing the Man in Black to the Mercury Stage, I don't feel like a "Johnny Cash Impersonator". I feel more like a guy who is lucky enough to have been in the right place at the right time. Through my research of archival footage, several books, and the encouragement of the rest of the Ring of Fire team, I've been inspired to absorb as much of Johnny's earthly adventure as possible. And I've been given the great privilege to "hear that train a comin", hop on board, blow the whistle, and ride those rails all the way from Dyess, Arkansas with brother Jack to the end of the line with June eight times a week.

Johnny Cash is an American Icon to be sure, a flame that burned so brightly that the heat of the embers is still with us. But also, Johnny was extremely human, an every day guy. Trying to do the right thing, find the right word, hit the right note, trying to be a light under what seemed at times to be a veil of darkness. Trying, like you, like me, to keep shoveling the coal into the engine, to keep the train rollin'. And it burns, burns, burns..."

- Kent M. Lewis