What a rush! 90 minutes of sheer emotional overload. You laugh, you cry, you are outraged, stuck dumbfounded and left in dazzled wonderment. Ride The Cyclone is a twisted gift of a show that keeps on revealing discoveries and surprises, a few may be horrified but most will know that are in the presence of something groundbreaking.
It is a little cynical and cruel though earnest and with a big heart and an acidic sense of humour.
Atomic Vaudeville’s mandate is to encourage and develop new talent and material though a diverse variety of disciplines. Ride The Cyclone is likely their biggest hit so far and it is evolving and growing quite likely into a Canadian classic.
Six teenagers from Uranium, Saskatchewan and all members (well, for sure 5 of them were) of the St. Cassian Chamber Choir have climbed aboard the Ride The Cyclone roller coaster after visiting the automated fortuneteller Karnac. He foresaw but could not warn they will would all die when the roller coaster would derail. Then they sing.
Yep we have a musical about dead teenagers and one of them has a doll’s head! Karnac is deadpan with a caustic sense of humor. He has temporarily brought the teenagers back and told them they must sing their hopes and dreams and one of them will be brought back to life. He has a large rat band – well, the band is just a four piece but the rats are large.
The cast is phenomenal: Kholby Wardell is Noel the only gay in town, non-pussed and droll his unfulfilled desire is desperately tragic. Rielle Braid is Ocean the A-type leader of the group who feels she is the most deserving to live. Elliott Loran is the awkward nerd with dreams of being space hero. Kelly Hudson is Constance the nicest girl in town with a secret. They sing and dance with unbridled passion and outrageously brave but tragic characterizations.
Sarah Jane Pelzer is the teen sporting a creepy doll head without any memory as to who she is. Haunted but trying to emulate the others, her quirky skips and hops are heartbreaking and funny, and her soprano is haunting. New to the cast this run is Jameson Matthew Parker as Miscah the wannabe badass gangster rapper. Check him out when he and the other youth are often ‘magic’d’ into back-up dancers; he disappears into each persona without grandstanding. He is remarkable.
Carey Wass is the sardonic voice and James Insell the puppeteer of Karnac and the band are also spot-on talented artists.
This version has a few new songs, richer stories and a higher stakes plot, which gets layered into this already rich musical. We still have the over size paper masks, the spacesuit, the garter belts, the lightshow carnival, the varied and witty choreography by Treena Stubel.
Britt Small and Jacob Richmond directed this delirious treat. Jacob Richmond writes the book with music by Brooke Maxwell. They are unsentimental and bizarre creators and it packs an emotional wallop. Ride The Cyclone is mostly insanely funny but the dark desolation underneath and surrounding it burrows into you.
My companion kept saying “amazing” between gasps of laughter. My teeth were clenched in a stupidly happy grin and there were a few tears. If you give yourself over to the crazy ride you will feel and feel and feel as it bobs, weaves, loop de loops. It’s a wild ride you will want to experience again and again.
Check out the trailer here.
David C. Jones
Diversity Casting Tally Sheet 2013
Art hold a mirror up to our world, and in our Canadian society in most urban centre the “visible minority” is at about 52% while most theatre (also in urban centre’s) is still all-Caucasian. So here is a running total that will be updated with each show I see this year.
Sadly for all it’s greatness Ride the Cyclone did not bump up are diversity total.
# of Plays Total Actors # Diverse Plays with Diverse Casting
9 58 16 3