By Chris Heide
If you have yet to embark on the insane, crazy rollercoaster that is Ride the Cyclone, you are missing out.
Ride the Cyclone is a new musical that recently debuted at the ACT Theatre, produced in conjunction with the 5th Avenue Theatre. This is actually the third iteration of Ride the Cyclone, with two previous versions having been produced in Chicago and off Broadway. This version, however, includes massive script changes- its a revamped, fresh version.
According to the official press release, the plot unfolds as follows: “At 8:17 PM, the Saint Cassian High School Chamber Choir will board the Cyclone roller coaster. At 8:19, the front axle will break, sending them to their tragic demise. Trapped in fantastical carnival-like purgatory, the recently deceased teens discover a mechanical fortune teller, who invites them to tell their stories of life interrupted, with the promise of a prize like no other. Welcome to Ride the Cyclone, a wildly original new musical. Part comedy, part tragedy and completely unexpected, this wonderfully weird story is at every turn satirical, macabre, creepy, campy and hilarious.”
The show is indeed deliciously dark, campy and twisted. It’s a tightly paced show, moving swiftly. The show clocks in around 90 minutes, without an intermission. Despite featuring a plot revolving around high schoolers, the show is definitely not kid friendly. A great deal of the script includes profanity, overt sexuality, and drug references.
One of the most delightful aspects of the show is the plethora of pop culture references packed into the script. There are several references to Trump, as well as a glorious mention of Christina Aguilera. One of the numbers even throws massive shade towards the overuse of autotune of autotune in the music industry; its overly produced rap number with an hilariously overbearing using of autotune.
Simply put, the songs make this show. Many of the numbers feel fresh and are peppered with modern pop music influences. It’s almost as if this show is an outlandish, satirical, and nightmarish version of Glee. One of the characters in the show even embodies the shill perfectionism of Lea Michele’s Rachel Berry.
If you have yet to purchase tickets for this show, do yourself a favor and get them now. Kudos to the ACT Theatre and 5th Avenue Theatre for continuing to produce high quality and risk-taking musicals.