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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 30, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 13
Ride the Cyclone might be a fun ride - or might not
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Ride the Cyclone might be a fun ride - or might not

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

RIDE THE CYCLONE
ACT THEATRE AND
5TH AVENUE THEATRE
Through May 20


Someone said that the co-productions chosen by ACT Theatre and the 5th Avenue Theatre in their annual outing of togetherness have always been a bit dark and/or quirky and I ran my memory back over Assassins, Grey Gardens, Vanities, Little Shop of Horrors, and First Date, and yup, I agree. Now we add Ride the Cyclone, perhaps the darkest and quirkiest of them all.

Ride the Cyclone checklist: Intriguing and entertaining set: Check. Super cool cast: Check. Check. Fun factor: Yep. Fun. Story: um.... Summary: Cotton candy - sweet, fun to eat, not very filling.

Director/choreographer Rachel Rockwell directs and choreographs the hell out of this piece. There is no doubt at all that it would not be the fun ride it is without all the whiz and the bang added here. The rhythm is steady and all-hands-on-deck, and the choreography is modern, fun, sometimes funny, and definitely attractive.

The technical support is also key to the look and feel of the piece. Set designer Scott Davis gives us an old-timey feeling carnival with a rundown booth for The Amazing Karnak, the narrator of the show (played by Karl Hamilton), and a slot machine-style backdrop that pulls up pictures of the cast as they sing about themselves one at a time. Lights are essential in playing up or down the moments and are designed by Gregory Hofmann. Sound (by Christopher Walker) also emphasizes moments of carnival atmosphere. Costuming (by Theresa Ham) gets school uniforms off and character shifts on in minimalist and tear-away clothing.

The subject matter of the musical is a dour one by description: Six teen members of the Saint Cassian High School Choir board the carnival's Cyclone roller coaster at 8:17pm. At 8:19pm the front axle of the ride breaks and the teens fly into the air and fall to their deaths.

Except they don't really exactly die, they get thrown into this seedy carnival pit of purgatory and play the game of their lives to see which one can win the gift of living through the accident. So, there is a competition among them to win, while Karnak tells them the rules, mostly after they've broken them.

There aren't only six songs, but basically each person gets to sing one about her/his life and what they want for their future. Here are where quirky and unexpected desires show up and keep the musical from spinning off its axis into boredom - those songs are more fun than you'd think. The teens' desires are much less stereotypical than the character prototypes.

The characters are archetypes. The smart, bossy, socially awkward Ocean O'Connell Rosenberg (Tiffany Tatreau), the Gay kid Noel Gruber (Kholby Wardell), a Ukrainian misfit Mischa Bachinski (Adam Standley), the handicapped boy Ricky Potts (Connor Russell), and the chunky hanger-on Constance Blackwood (Lillian Castillo).

What doesn't make that much sense is that there is also a sixth teen who no one remembers. She's supposed to be one of the kids in the same high school and in the choir. Why couldn't she be another - unrelated - teenager who got on the same ride as the other five? It's set in Saskatchewan, Canada. Is it such a big place that the kids don't remember someone? But she's postulated to be one of the six, yet no one remembers her and she gets decapitated in the accident. Ew. So she becomes Jane Doe (Emily Rohm).

Still, the talent of the cast, particularly Rohm's gorgeous voice, and the enthusiasm they all bring turn the fun up to 9 while you're there. When you're experiencing it, there are enough surprises to laugh at and delight in. It's just that afterwards, when you've added it all together, there just isn't much to hang on to as you leave.

Then again, there are plenty of musicals (*cough* Mamma Mia *cough*) that are 'just for fun' and not everything has to be a big heavy deal. So, it is totally up to what you'd like for your evening.

For more information, call 206-292-7676 or go to www.acttheatre.org.

Discuss your opinions with SGNCritic@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters. More articles can be found at MiryamsTheaterMusings.blogspot.com.

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