Soaring to great heights with "Ride the Cyclone: The Musical"
By Mercedes Caldera-Perez
The currently running off-Broadway production of a hidden gem by the name of Ride the Cyclone is a tragic story written by Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell. The show takes you on a wild ride of emotions as you follow six teens who meet their demise on the Cyclone Roller Coaster, and a fortune teller machine has them sing to prove their worth of a second chance at life. Here are a few pieces from the album:
It welcomes you with a talking segment which is where the fortune teller introduces himself as “The Amazing Karnak''. He explains his purpose of being designed to predict the exact time and place of someone's death. He also takes the time to poke fun at other albums that include welcomings, saying how its track will eventually be taken out in future rotations, and he gives pity to the vinyl listeners who have “an absurd insistence that sound technology has not progressed since the year 1877.”
“Fall Fair Suite”, although this song was taken out of the official soundtrack it is still a standout roll in the live performance. This takes place when the kids are on the derailing coaster and their happy screams turn frightened. They wonder how their situation is fair while describing their realization of the situation as well as things they didn't get to do in life, and things they found pointless wasting time on. It's a shame this song isn't included in the album as it's a wonderful performance.
“What the World Needs” is performed by a character named Ocean, known as the most successful girl in town. Not knowing the unanimous voting rule of the game yet she sings praises of herself and calls every one of her classmates useless. Although it proves how self centered Ocean is, it's hard not to find the song fun to listen to with its very upbeat tune.
“Talia” is one of the two songs performed by the character Mischa, the angriest boy in town. Mischa sings his heart out about his long distance girlfriend Talia who possibly isn't real. Although this isn't the song he uses to prove himself worthy, it is still heart wrenching to see how much he loved Talia and how devastated he was not being able to have the life he was saving up to have with her. As the song progresses you can hear the anger becoming more present, and at the end it turns from a sad tone to a techno like beat. It is an unfortunately underrated part of the album.
“The Ballad of Jane Doe” is sung by the most mysterious character Jane Doe. After the incident she was found without a head and no one was able to recall her, leading to her wondering about who she was. Her song is a plea to anyone who might be able to answer her questions and explain to her how her death could be fair. Her actor Emily Rohm gives an absolutely incredible performance on stage while not only hitting high notes but also being able to do so spinning in the air upside down. This is definitely the big showstopper of the musical.
“Jawbreaker” is the character-personality introduction for the nicest girl in town, Constance. Although this isn't her song it is one of the most interesting character introductions in the musical. She talks about how instead of being horrified after her realization during the fatal accident she was laughing, and when the moment clicked she had a sudden love for everything around her. This is a standout interaction compared to the others; it's something that shows light in the darker theme surrounding the show.
As the show reaches its end in the song “It's Not A Game/It's Just A Ride”, Karnak reads what can be interpreted as the audience's fortune saying, “Your lucky number is seven, you will soar to great heights. Be sure to ride the Cyclone.” This is the end where music and dreams come to die.
Even though the main theme of life and death appears dark for the show, “Ride the Cyclone” still manages to be comedic, fun, and emotional. It gives life to each of the characters even when they are facing the end. This underrated musical is slowly getting more of the attention it deserves, and I would highly recommend checking out both the soundtrack and the full performance itself if you enjoy musicals.