Bridgeport’s own Downtown Cabaret Theatre, with its "bring your own picnic" style of cabaret seating, is recognized as one of the premier theatrical venues in the area. This non-profit theater offers year-round productions and derives over 75% of its revenues from box office sales. Since its inception in 1976, the theater has drawn on local and New York talent to produce Broadway-style book musicals as well as original works. Past productions include the American premier of Blood Brothers in 1988, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 1979 before it appeared on Broadway.
Recently, the Downtown Cabaret Theater presented the world debut of The Man in Black, a live stage revue of the music of the late Johnny Cash. This show is not one of those jukebox musicals where the songs of an artist are woven around a contrived or flimsy tale. The Man in Black is a celebration of the songs of Johnny Cash, faithfully brought to life to try to provide “the up close and personal LIVE experience of his music.” Developed and performed by Scott Keeton, an actual distant cousin of the Cash clan, The Man in Black aptly does just that. It is a theatrical event filled with master musicianship and tuneful reminiscences, guaranteed to entertain theatergoers with country music, gospel, and rock and roll as performed by the one and only Johnny Cash.
The show opens with a train whistle and an ingenious 3-D image of a train approaching on the tracks. Out comes Mr. Keeton who says, “Hello, I’m not Johnny Cash,” before launching into the song “Folsom Prison Blues.” Though not an imitator, the effect of Mr. Keeton’s voice is immediate, because with his rich bass-baritone, he sounds just like Johnny Cash. Mr. Keeton’s entertaining stage presence and performance lets the audience know that they are seeing and hearing something special with each Cash classic that is sung. It helps that Mr. Keeton is an accomplished rock and roll performer, who not only shares the family tree, but also has an impressive resume of his own. He has toured the world and performed with Eric Idle, Bo Diddley, Magic Slim, and Dick Dale, and has played Carnegie Hall with Art Garfunkel.