Last week, the Arts Club Theatre Company, in conjunction with the Push international performing arts Festival, introduced Ride the Cyclone to the Granville Island Stage. This play, a musical about a high school choir group from Uranium, Saskatchewan, may sound elementary but it’s overt dealings with death give it an eerie maturity.
At the beginning we are introduced to The Amazing Karnak, a fortune-telling machine, who explains that a roller coaster incident, the Cyclone, has malfunctioned and led six choir kids to their deaths. The Karnak tells the kids that he has the power to bring one of them back to life, with the help of a unanimous vote from their peers, so begins the play. As the kids duke it out for who will be able to return to earth we are hit with an abundance of song and dance while gradually being introduced to each individual and their specific personalities.
The plot, though simple, is charming and well put together. As the stories of each student unfold, one by one, the difficulty of deciding on who is worthy to be revived becomes more difficult. The first student to plead her case is keener Ocean Rosenberg, played by Rielle Braid, who speaks about her overachiever life style and perfectionist attitude. Braid’s enthusiasm meshes perfectly with the other characters as she manifests herself as the stubborn leader of the group.
My favourite number of the play was near the beginning. The song “Fucked-up Girl”, sung by Kholby Wardell playing Noel Gruber, explains Noel’s struggle of growing up gay in a small town. The song is catchy, the outfits and dance, paired with Noel’s “diva” attitude, had me alternating between laughter and gasps.
The other two boys of the group fill in the high school stereotype of nerd and foreigner, but once they are individually introduced a side that’s not so typical is exposed. When geeky Ricky Potts, played by Elliott Loran, hits the stage he takes us into his imaginary world where he is none other than a highly sought after bachelor. Alternatively, foreigner Misha Barchinsky, played by Jameson Matthew Parker, opts to rap rather than sing about his life; slowly his strong man exterior drips away as we explore his sensitive and romantic side.
Not every character is required to belt out a ballad, but Sara Jane Pelzer, who plays Jane Doe, does anyways. Pelzer’s extraordinary voice and vocal range are a chilling reminder of the plays dealings with death. Her equally mysterious and frightening character, Jane Doe continually resurfaces this theme with her rigid mannerism and ghostly complexion.
The stage itself is quite high tech, set up with projectors, mini curtains, a live band, and a fog machine to bring that extra little bit of spookiness, making the show quite aesthetically pleasing. All these aspects mixed with the strength of the casts ensemble, brought for an equally spooky but fun show. Although the general story line is not overly complex, the ability to peak into each individuals’ story left me satisfied with the way the narrative was set up.
Find out which unfortunate roller coaster victim will get a chance to be brought back to life!
Check out Ride the Cyclone at the Granville Island Stage now playing until February 16th – click here to purchase your ticket today!