Cyclone cast

After having seen Jacob Richmond’s Legoland a handful of years ago, I was excited to see what Victoria-based Atomic Vaudeville had up their sleeve to coincide with the 2013 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.

The 95 minute, one-act Ride the Cyclone was originally produced in Victoria and chosen for Toronto’s 2010 Summerworks Festival before heading on a national tour the following year.

Rielle Braid, Kelly Hudson
[Rielle Braid, Kelly Hudson]

Ride the Cyclone won the Dora Mavor Moore Award for best touring production along with receiving multiple honours at the Toronto Theatre Critics Awards (including Best New Musical, Best Direction, and Best Supporting Actor in a musical).

Last night’s sold-out opening captured the gem of a theatre company that is Atomic Vaudeville. Through the colourfully designed stage set and lighting wizardry, six high schoolers bring their stories back to life after a freak ride on the Cyclone roller coaster kills them all. Uranium, Saskatchewan may be in the middle of nowhere to these kids, but each one of them has a story to tell, and lovingly does so, while the Amazing Karnack (a mechanized fortune teller) watches from the sideline.

Elliott Loran
[Elliott Loran]

Particular stand-outs include Kholby Wardell (in the role of Noel Gruber), Rielle Braid (as Ocean Rosenberg), and Elliott Loran (playing Ricky Potts). All six actors (with Kelly Hudson, Jameson Matthew Parker, and Sarah Jane Pelzer rounding out the cast) harmonize brilliantly together.

Rielle Braid, Sarah Jane Pelzer
[Rielle Braid, Sarah Jane Pelzer]

By the time the show’s hit the halfway point, I was enjoying watching the characters, paying less attention to what the final outcome would bring (announced by Karnak at the beginning of the story). The storyline is weak, but the resolve of these kids, particularly the lives they left behind, is what makes this show so entertaining to watch. That, and the four sets of red eyes staring out at the stage (aka the band), adding a sense of macabre to the darkly comedic tone of the play.

Watch for the excellent choreography (courtesy of Treena Stubel), Rebekah Johnson’s creative lighting design, and Hank Pine’s very cool set to round out a fun time. Ride the Cyclone is written by Jacob Richmond, with music and lyrics by Brooke Maxwell and Jacob Richmond.

Ride the Cyclone, A Musical Thrill Ride, continues through February 16 at the Granville Island Stage.

All photos by Tim Matheson.

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