If you haven’t seen Ride the Cyclone, get yourself to the carnival and buy a ticket! I now have a roller coaster story to add to my own.
Good theater may take us to a world we know. Great theater creates its own world and pulls us in. And this is great theater. Incredibly clever staging. Incisive and witty book. Recognizable characters who each stop the show with their song, tailor made in style to suit their persona.
I’m reminded of Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Staging you can’t anticipate. Theater like you’ve never seen before. Canadians Brooke Maxwell and Jacob Richmond do it for us here.
Favorite visual moment: when the girls’ white skirts are spread wide, then used as a projector screen, followed by the boy’s white shirt. Perfection.
Wait! Then there was Jane Doe’s eerie aria while she floats then twirls on high. This was no Peter Pan. More like Olympia from Tales of Hoffman infused with magic. Weird. Wonderful.
Favorite lyric: too many to isolate one. Here’s one I can remember to share. The jawbreaker lyric from “Sugarcloud.” “My life is a jawbreaker. I suck and suck and suck and suck. My heart is like a jawbreaker. It breaks and breaks.” Not to worry though. Constance comes out really well, considering she’s dead.
Oh! I didn’t tell you? Six teenagers die when a roller coaster malfunctions. In the carnival warehouse, their purgatory, a world weary fortune teller machine The Amazing Karmak tells them they can compete for the chance to go back to the living. And one will.
So never fear. This is a comedy thoroughly and completely. It’s not morbid or a downer.
How could it be with a gay character who channels a cross between Liza Minnelli in Cabaret and Marlene Dietrich in his hilarious lament? Or with Ocean O’Connell Rosenberg wittily skewering her companions in a Broadway style song before learning that the group will have to unanimously vote the winner back to life.
Trust me, knowing this much plot will not inhibit your own wowness with this show. I can’t begin to give you enough spoilers to do that. I will say that the lesson the show imparts is that life, “It’s Just a Ride.” Perfect.