Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Review: (Toronto) Ride The Cyclone

The Singing Dead
A musical becomes the "It" show of the season
by Beat Rice

Ride the Cyclone, a 2010 SummerWorks hit is back in Toronto. Running in the cavernous space of Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace this explosive musical fills every nook and cranny of the old found space. 

The narrator of the story is the mechanical man in the fortune-telling machine.

The musical tells the story of six high school students who are all members of the choir in St. Casian’s Catholic School in the town of Uranium, Saskatchewan. Or at least, they were members of it until they all tragically died in a roller coaster accident. The narrator of the story is the mechanical man in the fortune-telling machine. He grants each of the young characters a chance to share who they are, their hopes, and fantasies, all in hindsight of the accident. 

The actors all have powerful voices and pumped an endless amount of energy into their performances. The numbers that featured their character were well suited for their voices, and showcased their strengths in that style and vocal range. Rielle Braid plays the ambitious teen, Ocean Rosenberg, Mathhew Coulson plays the Ukrainian born Misha Bachnisky, Kelly Hudson is Constance Blackwood, the ‘nicest girl in town’, Elliot Loran is the pianist and imaginative Picky Potts, Kholby Wardell plays the poetic Noel Gruber, and Sarah Pelzer is the mysterious Jane Doe. Britt Small and Jacob Richmond both directed this exciting show.

I forgot we were in Theatre Passe Muraille.

For a small scale musical in a black box theatre, the production design was very effective, while never detracting from the performances. The red curtain and giant CYCLONE ride side made it clear we were in a carnival and the dry wheat stalks that lined the stage instantly says the Prairies. Some of the lighting choices were fabulous and entertaining. Bright flashing colours, spinning disco ball, haze and laser. I forgot we were in Theatre Passe Muraille. Even the use of lights in props was impressive. It added another visual quality to the stage. 

Ride the Cyclone for yourself. 

Ride the Cyclone produced by Atomic Vaudeville and presented in collaboration with Acting Up Stage Company at Theatre Passe Muraille to December 3.

Read Jacob Richmond's first-person piece about the creation of Ride the Cyclone
Listen to Episode 10 of This Is The CPC for a long-form interview with Richmond (also available on iTunes)

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