The life of country giant Johnny Cash is to be the subject of an upcoming musical, which producers hope will come to Broadway. It’s to be directed by a highly respected name in musical theater, the Tony Award-winning American-Canadian Des McAnuff, known for such productions as Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Jersey Boys and The Who’s Tommy.
The New York Post reported that the show has the working title of Johnny & June, in reference to Cash’s longtime partner and musical collaborator June Carter Cash. A previous musical based on Cash’s songs, Ring of Fire, opened on Broadway in 2006, created and directed by Richard Maltby Jr. The role of Cash in the new production has yet to be announced.
McAnuff is writing the libretto for the new musical with Robert Cary, while Tommy Mottola is producing with Dodgers Theatricals. Mottola, who received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2019, had been rumored to be working on the Cash project before the production hiatus caused by the pandemic.
Mottola, chairman of Mottola Media Group and previously the chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment, has a number of previous collaborations with McAnuff under his belt. They are Groundhog Day, A Bronx Tale: The Musical, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, and Girl From the North Country, the musical with a book by Conor McPherson that uses the songs of Bob Dylan, which returns to Broadway on April 29.
Cash, who died in 2003 at the age of 71, was previously the subject of the highly successful Walk The Line, the 2005 motion picture that charted his early life, rise to fame, and relationship with June Carter Cash. Reese Witherspoon won an Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal of June, while Joaquin Phoenix, as Johnny, was nominated for Best Actor.
Listen to uDiscover Music’s Johnny Cash Best Of playlist.