RIDE THE CYCLONE – Neither here nor there
The big question is – who of the five dead teenage choir members plus one “Baby Jane” doll-like mysterious girl who lost her head in a tragic accident on the Cyclone roller coaster in a decrepit vintage Coney Island Carnival site, spearheaded by a robotic fortune teller will win enough votes tallied by said fortune teller “The Amazing Karnak” to be lucky enough after spilling out their guts in tuneful if not altogether memorable song after song to return to the living in this mixed bag vaudeville import from Canada which has just blown into the Lucille Lortel Theatre?
Attempting to take us to dizzying heights RIDE THE CYCLONE is a series of ups and downs without too many thrills and/or chills. Life or rather death isn’t such a carnival for these unfortunate teens. All but one rises to the occasion.
And one – Jane Doe (the mysterious beheaded doll-like charmer Emily Rohm) whose head sits in its rightful place allowing Ms. Rohm to majestically sing her aria while giving the flying magic carpet from ALADDIN a run for its money. This extra special effect is truly spectacular.
If Brooke Maxwell and Jacob Richmond the creators of this uneven production intended for us to care for their characters – all victims of a tragic accident – they could have created real people and not stereotypical central casting types who one after another (check them off as they finish their songs) are showcased in some lovely musical production numbers.
There is the gay boy – Noel Gruber (Kholby Wardell channeling Michael Urie channeling Marlene Dietrich. Jane Doe (Emily Rohm) who gets to keep her decapitated head firmly in place to entertain us while toting a decapitated doll. A physically challenged Ricky Pots (an adorable Alex Wyse) who gets to rock his inner rock star with surprisingly strong vocals. Mischa Bachinski a crotch grabbing (his own) Ukranian rapper who bares his chiseled chest. Constance Blackwood (Lillian Castillo) the shy, low self-esteemed best friend of the heroine of this opus Ocean O’Connell Rosenberg (a terribly annoying Tiffany Tatreau) a mix of Alice in Wonderland and Matilda – who originated this role in Chicago and took over for Taylor Louderman who unexpectedly left the show this week citing “artistic differences.”
Also the dry and acerbic Karl Hamilton as The Amazing Karnak who foretells his own demise by Virgil the giant rat who is chewing on his power cable.
The set by Scott Davis is fantastic. Ditto for costumes (Theresa Ham) projections (Mike Tutaj) special effects and illusions by Michael Curry Designs & Hat Rabbit Studio, lighting design Greg Hofmann and choreography by Rachel Rockwell who also keeps the Cyclone moving along despite jumping the tracks every so often with her first rate cast of players.
“Well, I wasn’t bored.” a friend said after the 100 minutes in purgatory – without intermission. But not being bored does not a great musical make.
A MCC THEATER production. Through December 18th
Photos: Joan Marcus