Award-winning actress Cory Goodrich took the stage Sunday at Theatre at the Center's homage to the Man in Black, "Ring of Fire - The Music of Johnny Cash."
Goodrich, who lives in near the borders of Wheaton and Carol Stream, plays Cash's wife and frequent collaborator, June Carter Cash, as well as Cash's mother, Carrie Cloveree.
"I'm really not trying to imitate June Carter. It's more a feeling of who she was," she said. "She was so exuberant and full of life and love and family. I love that about her."
The musical follows Cash's art and spirit more than his biography, she said.
"His music really transcends time. He still has something to say," Goodrich said. "He has a large body of work in which he didn't just sing, he said something about the human spirit – he could relate to all kinds of people."
While her singing and acting has earned her a Jeff Award, which honors excellence in Chicago area theater, "Ring of Fire" gives Goodrich the chance to do something new: play an instrument.
She and the other performers all play live accompaniment to nearly 35 Cash songs. A songwriter in her own right, Goodrich has released fundraising albums for nonprofit Season of Concern, benefitting those in the theater community afflicted with HIV and Aids, and two albums of children's music.
The opportunity to play onstage is both "fun and terrifying," she said.
The show's director, Brian Russell, said audiences familiar with Goodrich's work will be pleasantly surprised.
"Most audiences have seen Cory doing more 'legitimate' music – musical theater, classical musical theater and operetta," he said. "This isn't that, this is country folk. I think some people are going to be surprised in a wonderful way at what they hear from her."
In addition to her children's music, she also worked as a music teacher for the "Music Together" program in the Chicago area, which stresses the importance of families enjoying music – something important for the mother of two.
"As Americans, we don't do that any more. It's very solitary, we always have headphones on, it's just not as communal," she said. "And Act 1 is lots of folk music, and I love those old songs – they really gave families the chance to come together."
Show times for "Ring of Fire"
• 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays • 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays • 2:30 p.m. Sundays
Select Thursday evening and Saturday matinees.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.TheatreAtTheCenter.com.
Goodrich's songs, biography and more can be found at www.CoryGoodrich.com.