Ride the Cyclone

Ride the Cyclone is a musical with music, lyrics and book by Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell.[1]

Ride the Cyclone
The "Ride the Cyclone" cast recording logo and cover art
MusicJacob Richmond & Brooke Maxwell
LyricsJacob Richmond & Brooke Maxwell
BookJacob Richmond & Brooke Maxwell
Premiere2008: Atomic Vaudeville, Victoria, British Columbia
Productions2015 Chicago
2016 Off-Broadway
2018 Seattle
2019 Atlanta
2019 Minneapolis

It tells the story of the members of St. Cassian High School chamber choir of Uranium City, Saskatchewan, who perish on a faulty rollercoaster called "The Cyclone". Each tells a story to win the reward of a mechanical fortune teller — the chance to return to life.


The world premiere production took place in Victoria, British Columbia at Atomic Vaudeville in 2008.[2] A production played at the Theatre Passe Muraille, Toronto in 2011,[3] and there was a tour of Western Canada in 2013.[2]

The American premiere took place at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Directed by Rachel Rockwell, the production opened on 29 September 2015, playing a limited run until 8 November.[4] With Rockwell again directing, the show opened Off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theatre with an official opening night on 30 November 2016, ending its limited run on 18 December.[1] Taylor Louderman was initially cast in the production but withdrew during previews, citing creative differences. She was replaced by original Chicago company member Tiffany Tatreau.[5] The cast also included Alex Wyse.[6] Charles Isherwood of The New York Times praised the show, stating "this delightfully weird and just plain delightful show... will provide the kind of thrills we look for in all musical comedies, however outlandish their subject matter: an engaging and varied score, knocked out of the park by a superlative cast, and a supremely witty book."[7]


Our host for the evening is Karnack, Wonderville's mechanical fortune teller automaton. Karnak reveals that he will die soon, as a rat is chewing his power cable. The insensate Karnack was able to predict the exact moment of a person's death but the carnival set him to "Family Fun Mode" and he could only repeat fairground advertising: "Your lucky number is eight. Ride the Cyclone." He tells the audience that a small town choir has ridden the fair's roller coaster, the Cyclone, to their deaths. Five teens arrive in limbo. Karnak informs them of their impending demise, but offers to use the last of his power to send one of them back to the land of the living.

Ocean Rosenberg insults the other teens for their dead-end lives. She sings that she deserves more life as she's the only one with the potential for success. (What the World Needs) . But Karnack decrees that the choice of who lives will be by consensus.

The other teens include Misha, a Ukrainian refugee who alternates between Gangsta Rap and a Ukrainian love ballad to his online girlfriend. Noel, the only homosexual in his small town who dreams of being a cold hearted French prostitute. Ricky, born with a degenerative disease that left him mute, but developed a rich fantasy life to retreat into. Finally, Constance, Ocean's best friend and the "nicest girl in town" but who has grown to loathe her town and family.

The teens sing about their hopes, dreams and fantasies. One, Jane Doe, sings about despair. The headless body of Jane Doe was found in the wreckage and assumed to be one of the choir. She was decapitated in the accident and no one claimed the body. Her spirit has no memory of who she was and no idea what will happen to her in the afterlife. Finally, Constance sings of her love for her life and town and how all her anger and misconceptions dropped away when the roller coaster derailed.

At last it is time for the vote but Karnak changes the rules. He tells Ocean that she alone will get the deciding vote. Having a crisis of conscience she refuses to vote for herself. She calls for a vote, saying that Jane is the only one who doesn't have memories to take to the afterlife with her, and the others decide to send her back. Jane goes through the portal and regains her memories and life as Penny Lamb (a character in Richmond's play LEGOLAND). We see a quick home movie of her remaining life from youth to old age. Karnak shorts out, repeating "Ride the Cyclone" before the remaining teens sing a peppy song (It's a Ride) as their spirits travel to whatever comes next.

Musical numbersEdit

  • "Dream of Life" – Jane Doe
  • "Uranium" – Ensemble
  • "Sailing Through Space" – Ensemble
  • "What the World Needs" – Ocean O’Connell Rosenberg and Ensemble
  • "Noel's Lament" – Noel Gruber and Ensemble
  • "This Song is Awesome" – Mischa Bachinski and Ensemble
  • "Talia" – Mischa Bachinski and Ensemble
  • "Space Aged Bachelor Man" – Ricky Potts and Ensemble
  • "The Ballad of Jane Doe" – Jane Doe and Ensemble
  • "The New Birthday Song" – Ensemble
  • "Sugarcloud" – Constance Blackwood and Ensemble
  • "It's Not a Game" – Ensemble
  • "Sailing Through Space (Reprise)" – Ensemble
  • "It’s Just a Ride" – Ensemble

A World Premiere Cast Recording was released digitally on May 7, 2021, featuring the Atlanta production cast and several cut songs.


Character Toronto (2011) Canadian Tour (2013) Chicago (2015) Off Broadway (2016) Seattle (2018) Atlanta (2019)[8] Minneapolis (2019)[9] World Premiere Cast Recording (2021)[10]
Constance Blackwood Kelly Hudson Lillian Castillo Gabrielle Dominique Lillian Castillo
The Amazing Karnak Alex Waslenko Carey Wass Karl Hamilton Jim Lichtscheidl Jacob Richmond
Jane Doe Sarah Pelzer Emily Rohm Becca Hart Emily Rohm
Ricky Potts Elliott Loran Jackson Evans Alex Wyse Connor Russell Scott Redmond Jordan M. Leggett Scott Redmond
Misha Bachinski Matthew Coulson Jameson Matthew Parker Russell Mernagh Gus Halper Adam Standley Chaz Duffy Michael Hanna Chaz Duffy
Ocean O'Connell Rosenberg Rielle Braid Tiffany Tatreau Shinah Brashears Tiffany Tatreau
Noel Gruber Kholby Wardell Josh Zwick Kholby Wardell

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2010 SummerWorks Award[11] Prize for Production Won
The NOW Magazine Audience Choice Award Won
2012 Toronto Theatre Critics Award[12] Best New Musical Won
Best Director of a Musical Britt Small and Jacob Richmond Won
Best Supporting Actor in a Musical Elliott Loran Won
Dora Mavor Moore Award Outstanding Touring Production Won
2013 Saskatoon and Area Theatre Awards[13] Achievement in Production Won
Achievement in Ensemble Performance Won
Achievement in Costume Design James Insell and Ingrid Hansen Nominated
Achievement in Directing Britt Small and Jacob Richmond Nominated
Achievement in Sound Design Brooke Maxwell Nominated
2016 Jeff Awards[14] Ensemble

Projections/Video Design

Production of a Musical-Large

Mike Tutaj Nominated
Director - Musical Rachel Rockwell Won
2017 Drama League Awards[15] Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical Nominated
The Joe A. Callaway Award[16] Excellence in Choreography Rachel Rockwell Won
Lucille Lortel Award[17] Outstanding Musical Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Gus Halper Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Emily Rohm Nominated
Outstanding Scenic Design Scott Davis Nominated
Outstanding Lighting Design Greg Hoffman Nominated
Henry Hewes Design Award[18] Scenic Design Mike Tutaj Nominated
2018 BroadwayWorld Award[19] Best Musical (Larger Budget Theatre - Local Nominated
Best Lighting Design (Larger Budget Theatre - Local) Gregory Hofmann and Mike Tutaj Nominated
Best Scenic Design (Larger Budget Theatre - Local) Scott Davis Nominated
2019 Best New Work (Professional) Nominated
The Suzi Bass Award[20] Outstanding Production - Musical Won
Outstanding Acting Ensemble - Musical Won
Outstanding Direction - Musical Leora Morris Won
Outstanding Music Direction Greg Matteson Nominated
Outstanding Lighting Design Greg Hofmann Won
Outstanding Scenic Design Scott Davis Nominated
Outstanding Sound Design Clay Benning Won
Outstanding Projection Design Mike Tutaj Won
Gypsy Rose Lee Award[21] Excellence in Sound Design (Large Theaters) Christopher Walker Nominated


  1. ^ a b "New Musical Ride the Cyclone Opens Tonight | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  2. ^ a b "Ride the Cyclone getting American premiere in Chicago, with an eye on New York". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  3. ^ "Ride the Cyclone at Theatre Passe Muraille: Saskatchewan Ghost Cabaret a Rollercoaster Hit - The Toronto Review of Books". The Toronto Review of Books. 2011-11-15. Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  4. ^ Greene, Morgan. "'Ride the Cyclone' cast announced". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  5. ^ Desk, BWW News. "Taylor Louderman Departs MCC's Ride the Cyclone Due to 'Creative Differences'". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  6. ^ "Taylor Louderman Exits Ride the Cyclone Due to Creative Differences | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  7. ^ Isherwood, Charles (2016-11-30). "Review: Teenagers Sing to Survive in 'Ride the Cyclone'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  8. ^ https://alliancetheatre.org/production/2018-19/ride-the-cyclone
  9. ^ http://www.jungletheater.org/cyclone
  10. ^ https://www.ghostlightrecords.com/ridethecyclone.html?___SID=U
  11. ^ "SummerWorks 2010 – Award Winners Announced". Hye's Musings. 2010-08-16. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  12. ^ "Tarragon show, B.C. musical win big at Toronto theatre awards". Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  13. ^ "Nominees and Recipients 2013 | SATAwards". Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  14. ^ "Archives | The Joseph Jefferson Awards". jeffawards.org. Retrieved 2021-05-23.
  15. ^ "Drama League". dramaleague.org. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  16. ^ "2016-2017 Recipients and Finalists | Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation". Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  17. ^ "2017 Lucille Lortel Awards Nominees & Recipients". The Lucille Lortel Awards. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  18. ^ McPhee, Ryan (2017-12-18). "The Band's Visit and Come From Away Designers Among 2017 Henry Hewes Design Award Recipients". Playbill. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  19. ^ Staff, B. W. W. "Vote For The 2018 BWW Seattle Awards; HAMILTON Leads Best Musical Tour!". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  20. ^ "2018-2019 Nominees! 2017-2018 Winners!". July20. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  21. ^ Desk, BWW News. "Seattle Theater Writers Announce the Eighth Annual Nominations of the 2018 Gypsy Rose Lee Awards". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2020-07-21.