Scott Moreau in DARLIN’ COMPANION at MSMT

Audience favorite native son Scott Moreau returns to MSMT to close out the theatre’s 2022 concert series with a new, captivating musical tribute, performed by Allison Kelly, celebrating Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash. DARLIN’ COMPANION (courtesy of ShowTunes Productions), conceived by Moreau and featuring the 25 songs and duets that made the couple famous, is a musical extravaganza with compelling narrative threads.

Scott Moreau has achieved some of his greatest theatrical successes in portraying Cash, and his identification and intimate knowledge of the character is so close that it almost feels like he’s channeling the iconic singer. Moreau brings his dark, full-bodied baritone to Cash’s music, and he perfectly captures the singer’s stylistic traits, from the phrasing and sharpness of his voice to the demeanor of his body. Additionally, he can interpret a song, giving each choice a deep context, making the performance a dramatic and vocal enjoyment. A charming talker, he also knows how to tie choices to folk anecdotes that add to the character.

Allison Kelly’s compassionate portrayal of June Carter Cash captures the close relationship between Carter Cash and her husband, The deep bond between them is conveyed artistically and emotionally. Her powerful midrange and distinctive edge are reminiscent of Carter Cash’s unparalleled voice, and she and Morrow blend their voices beautifully in many duets.

The four-piece stage band, a vibrant instrumental ensemble of JR Alexander on piano and keyboards, Nick White on guitar, Joe Cogen on drums, and David Sonneborn on bass, vividly captures Cash’s sound and atmosphere with its electronic and acoustic mix.

The show resembles a Cash-Carter concert, with June doing a warm-up before returning multiple times to sing duets with her husband. There are the most famous hits, but also some lesser-known songs like Johnny Horton’s “When Spring in Alaska Gets Under 40.” Musical highlights of the evening included the definitive performances of “Folsom Prison Blues”, “I Walk the Line”, “Ring of Fire” and “Man in Black”. Moreau’s take on “A Boy Named Sue” is dramatic storytelling at its best, while “Sunday Morning Comes” is tragic. Of the duet, “If I Were a Carpenter” received an upbeat review. “Long Legged Guitar Pickin’ Man” is uplifting, and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” at the end is an emotional tenderness.

The concert’s visuals were captivating, using THE COLOR PURPLE set, whose rustic southern feel unexpectedly evoked Cash, Carter, and country music. The lighting is slightly atmospheric; the sound is well-balanced; the costumes are reminiscent of the era, with Cash in his signature black suit, the musician in a black embroidered shirt, and Carter Cash in a contrasting dress—one colorful print and another elegant damask. Anthony Panarello takes on the stage manager function with aplomb.

Another welcome addition to the musical biography, DARLIN’ COMPANION recreates the life and music of the great Johnny Cash. There is probably no one else on the stage today who has mastered the material with the same understanding, grace, charisma and pure voice as Scott Morrow, and here, along with the talented Alison Kelly, has found a A new way to please fans of great singers.

Photo courtesy of MSMT

DARLIN’ COMPANION takes place July 31-August 1, 2022 at the Pickard Theatre, MSMT, 1 Bath Road, Brunswick, ME 207-725-8769 www.msmt.org

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