It's no spoiler to tell you that a group of kids from a choir in the small town of Uranium City, Saskatchewan (wow, it's a long time since I've had to spell that word) die when the roller coaster car they're riding in goes off the rails at the highest point, hurtling them towards their death; it happens in the first five minutes of the show. But it's what happens after that, in the space between life and death, that's the bizarre and brilliant thing about this musical. The six teenagers are told by Karnak, one of those creepy carnival fortune teller machine thingies, that he can bring one, and only one, of them back to life. So begins the competition, with each of them pleading their case in song. Which is another great feature of the musical - there is no star, each member of the cast gets their moment at center stage. And each person's song is so weirdly specific that we know exactly who they are, and love them for it. I know, I know, this sounds like a weird premise for a musical, but trust me, it works.
|Shina Brashears, Josh Zwick, Jordan M. Leggett, Michael Hanna,|
and Gabrielle Dominique (photo by Dan Norman)
|photo by Dan Norman|
Reading the program after the show, I was delighted to read Artistic Director and Director Sarah Rasmussen's (without whom none of the above happens) note, in which she compares Ride the Cyclone to the classic play Our Town. I had the same thought watching the show, perhaps because Our Town was fresh in my mind, having just seen Artistry's lovely production two days earlier. It may seem like an odd comparison, but both shows have a moment when a character realizes the almost unbearable beauty of life only after they've left it. In their death, these characters can finally appreciate their lives for all they were. If only stories like this could help us remember to appreciate life while we're in it (aka "no day but today").
This magical Ride continues Tuesdays through Sundays through October 20. If you like fun, energy, originality, and awesome performances, you should probably see it.