Members say: Quirky, Entertaining, Clever, Great singing, Great staging

About the show

MCC Theater presents the NYC premiere of this dark musical comedy about a group of teenagers whose trip to an amusement park takes a very surreal turn.

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The Saint Cassian High School Chamber Choir will board the Cyclone roller coaster at 8:17pm. At 8:19pm the front axle will break, sending them to their tragic demise. A mechanical fortune teller invites each to tell the story of a life interrupted, with the promise of a prize like no other. 'Ride the Cyclone' is a wildly original new musical, part comedy, part tragedy, and wholly unexpected.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"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…All of the performers are terrific…Although the show is primarily a series of solo turns, the staging is dynamic...For a musical about dead teenagers, it’s high-spirited and just plain fun from start to finish." Full Review


"This quirky show pushes hard for its desired audience response, be it laughter or tears. Unfortunately, it's not nearly as funny as the writers seem to think and a last-minute U-turn toward schmaltz comes across as unearned…Everyone in the cast works up a sweat selling the material they have to work with...Under the steady and efficient direction of Rachel Rockwell, the whole thing feels like a Fringe Festival musical with really high production values." Full Review


"Curiously lacking in any kind of emotion or tension. Director and choreographer Rachel Rockwell's production is a lively one, featuring a boisterously talented cast...But while the book contains a decent number of guffaws and the score exudes a pleasant assortment of contemporary sounds, the hints that something of significant profundity is contained within the text are left unfulfilled." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"It clearly wants to be both eerie and funny, as well as subversive, serious, touching, and great. As a result it’s a little bit of all of the above, except for the last...It’s only toward the end, as the stabs at snarky humor subside and the kids start considering the brevity of the lives they are leaving, that anything emotionally engaging happens. Until then, 'Cyclone' feels like a queasy hangover dream with the late Prince as the dramaturge and some serious short-term memory problems." Full Review

Time Out New York

"A lengthy cooking time has only resulted in a derivative, if energetically plated stew...'Cyclone' earns points for its hectic mix of misanthropic satire and small-town melancholy, and the eclectic score keeps things lively—Brooke Maxwell and Jacob Richmond's tunes run the gamut from Ukrainian rap to French chanson and indie pop. But at 100 minutes, this gaudily hand-painted car trundles along after the thrill has faded." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"The emotional payoff is nil, because the songs neither illuminate the characters nor help explain why they should be allowed to live...'Ride the Cyclone' looks and sounds much better than it is, thanks to Rachel Rockwell's direction and choreography and a top-flight cast of fresh faces...Still, it's hard to get away from the idea that 'Ride the Cyclone' is little more than a batch of random songs strung together by way of a forced, silly narrative concept." Full Review

New York Theater

"If the musical feels largely derivative, it features an appealing, talented cast, a dozen witty, energetic songs in a variety of popular styles, and a spectacular design for such a small-scale show. Although the characters are dead, that doesn’t stop them from being fun and funny, albeit in a familiar way…The premise winds up being little more than the frame for a series of entertaining musical numbers. But the cast makes the most of them." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“When the show is singing and dancing, and being creatively theatrical (including a revolving stage), it sparkles...It's the book passages, though, especially those that go on too long, that hold the show down. The music, while always enjoyable, is generic but several numbers are nonetheless showstoppers, particularly the surrealistic one performed by Jane, when she flies out over the audience and even does a pinwheel in midair. 'Ride the Cyclone' didn't exactly spin my wheels.” Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"The impulse toward the easy, cheesy laugh means that unlike other teen-angst musicals, the emotional stakes remain flat. The young cast is talented and appealing enough, but their characters and their sketchy back-stories too seldom escape the cartoonish…As a musical score, it lacks cohesion, mostly sounding like inferior versions of numbers you've heard before in more thoughtfully crafted shows." Full Review

Front Row Center

"The Canadian writing team of Brooke Maxwell and Jacob Richmond have no experience to speak of in creating staged musicals and that is fairly evident even without reading the Playbill. Karnak spends an inordinate amount of time just narrating backstory to the audience...The duo, however, are quite good at serving up catchy, rock-tinged melodies...The show works best when looked at as a musical revue with wild songs where nothing necessarily needs to connect logically." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"As glorious as the visual experience is, it becomes increasingly empty, if not outright pointless, the longer ‘Ride the Cyclone’ plods on. And, despite running a mere 100 intermissionless minutes, it feels as though it runs through the myriad eternities the production predicts, and then some. This is in part because, despite its appearance, there's not a lot original about what transpires…Think of it as Kurt Weill's ‘A Chorus Line,’ if Weill had no taste or common sense." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"Run, do not walk to get tickets…The newest cult musical that is sure become a sensation...As for the cast, they are, for the most part, all unknowns, fabulously young and talented. I will not single anyone out because they are all spectacular...This is one funny, well-written show with heart, soul and afterlife...The show is directed and choreographed by Rachel Rockwell and she is a find...One of the best shows this season, and definitely the most thought-provoking and interesting. Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"The dark but perversely lovable little tuner...A work at once macabre and sweet, melancholy and affirmative, merciless and compassionate...'Cyclone' felt a tad tenser, slower and less certain of itself at the MCC Theater than had been the case in Chicago — the performances did not entirely capture the requisite blend of the strange and the deeply intimate. The score revealed itself to be in need of couple more songs...But there's no other show in town even remotely like this one." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"I loved every minute of it, and will tell everyone I meet to go see this exciting, crazy musical...Directed and choreographed by Rachel Rockwell with a sharp witty sense of fun and dark sincerity, it’s a marvelously clever set-up, rich in ghoulish bravado and weirdness...This show is a macabre amusement park ride masking as a brilliant musical, one that I hope will find its way to Broadway." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"The competition gives the victims the opportunity to advocate for the opportunity to return to living out their lives and each performance is remarkable and provides its own counterpoint teaching to the musical’s main 'lesson' of how to manage one’s movement through the ride called 'life'...Under Rachel Rockwell’s astute direction, the cast of the musical excel in every way and tackle Ms. Rockwell’s choreography with impressive skill." Full Review


“The flashy orchestrations performed by the four piece combo dress up the undistinguished lyrics and the bland revue format. The use of many clichés is probably meant as comic but only go unnoticed as the show moves so fast. The expert cast makes the most of their opportunities but the basic question as to the intended audience for this bizarre story is never resolved. And the show is surprisingly upbeat considering the subject matter.” Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"My expectations were so high that I ended up being slightly disappointed...The performers are all appealing...Why then was I slightly disappointed? In trying to tell us enough to care about each character, the show occasionally loses momentum...Nevertheless, there is much to admire, particularly for a younger audience. If you liked 'The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,' which I was reminded of, you will probably enjoy this show." Full Review

The Wrap

"The various confessions are pretty much what you’d expect from a bunch of 17-year-olds, and since the show is structured around these stories, you’ll probably be checking your watch when the second teenager, named Noel, reveals his fascination with Marlene Dietrich in ‘The Blue Angel’ but for some reason impersonates a French chanteuse from post-World War II for his big number, complete with accordion." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"'Ride the Cyclone' lives up to its namesake amusement park ride: it has moments of fear and exhilaration, and is ultimately rather diverting. Still, like most such rides, it’s fun while it lasts, yet will be forgotten hours, if not, minutes later…The show’s shortcomings lie firmly in the hands of its co-authors…First, their characters rarely feel more than two-dimensional…More problematic is that the pair’s pastiche-driven score never makes as much of an impression as it should." Full Review


"A goofy, extravagant, bad-taste musical comedy…If you don’t think about the utter cruelty of the concept and the pasted-on smile-button conclusion, it may be altogether possible, oddly enough, to enjoy the audacious foolishness and admire the gung-ho excellence of the cast and the campy, over-the-top staging. Sometimes I could. More of the time, however, I just couldn't...The frequently poetic lyrics are just as often accompanied by banal, derivative tunes." Full Review

Act Three - The Reviews

"Quite the musical with a message and a heart...It felt a little like a NYMF show. However, the show was executed so well and so crisply, I could have imagined being in a Broadway theatre…Given the macabre nature of the material, one has to look beyond the obvious and dream a little alongside these youngsters…If you need an exhilarating experience in the theatre, head over to the Lortel and go for a wild ride with 'Cyclone!'" Full Review

Village Voice

"Maxwell, Richmond, and their director-choreographer, Rachel Rockwell, feel no need for the show's elements to be weighed down by coherence or sense…Unhappily, the creative team has been so busy gilding each of these numbers with maximum pizzazz that they forgot to give them either any distinction or any grounding in reality...If the authors had put any effort into making you care, for even a few minutes, about their characters, this might have been a good show." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"In a somewhat formulaic structure, the kids each have an opportunity to make their cases, but Karnak continues to switch up the rules up until the very last chords are played. What makes 'Ride the Cyclone' so wildly entertaining is what happens within each of those moments…Rachel Rockwell’s work here is thoughtful and nuanced as she is somehow able to unpack a treasure chest of quirkiness delivered by the authors." Full Review


"A weird little musical comedy about a horrific disaster...All of the performances are terrific, revealing both the cliché of their characters, as well as the genuine human beings underneath. And it’s charmingly pulled together by director and choreographer Rockwell, doing a fine service to the hilarious, inventive, and often surprising work of writers Maxwell and Richmond. It’s creepy, it’s campy, it’s touching, and, for a musical about a bunch of dead teenagers, it’s very funny. Take a ride." Full Review


"More often than not, the show pursues humor, but when it allows itself moments of poignancy they are often unexpected and resonant...It's easy to become immersed in and engrossed by a show with such a richly atmospheric design, even at the moments when the story traffics in clichés or formulas. And while the show moves towards a fairly predictable ending, it offers many surprises along the way. It's a musical that is unexpectedly charming and entertaining, despite its macabre premise." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Absorbing, Great acting, Quirky, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you like dark premises lightened with humor and cheeky songs

Don't see it if you dont like shows with the premise of 6 children killed from a rollercoaster accident

Clever, Edgy, Quirky, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if you did choir in high school, enjoy really dark comedic situations

Don't see it if quirky music and storylines aren't your cup of tea

Funny, Masterful, Great music, Wonderful, Imaginative

See it if a funny, life affirming, feel good musical

Don't see it if dislike death as a theme

Absorbing, Delightful, Edgy, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if you like to discover new young talented actors. And you want to see an unconventional show that covers a big range of music genres.

Don't see it if you want to see something that has an original and more in-depth message behind the show. The baseline of the story is cliche.

Delightful, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Hilarious, Great staging

See it if you like crazy, weird stories. There's fun music and an interesting story that ends up being a bit thought provoking.

Don't see it if you don't like comedic shows or a long-term plot. It's a bottle show, all one location and time.

Funny, Dark, Enchanting, Quirky, Great writing

See it if you're in the mood for something fresh, dark, witty, and - let's face it, a ride unlike anything else you've ever seen.

Don't see it if ..honestly, I think this show should be seen by as many people as possible. You may not love it, but its so unique that it deserves a chance

Also I loved this show - one of the best theater pieces I've ever seen. It ... Read more Read less

Funny, Ambitious, Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you love inventive story telling and great singing. not typical but so much fun.

Don't see it if you want bright and cheery. there is a wonderful darkness to this, one that I loved.

Funny, Delightful, Refreshing, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You want to see a dark but very humorous show with amazing production values. It's quirky and very fun with a score full of hits.

Don't see it if You already have a fear of roller-coasters. Otherwise I do not have much to say bad about it!

Clever, Great acting, Refreshing, Relevant, Hilarious

See it if you want to see a wonderful piece of new theater with lots of new talent and a wonderfully hilarious and heart breaking storyline

Don't see it if N/A. Definitely see it if you can, it's absolutely remarkable.

Funny, Quirky, Entertaining, Great staging, Fringe-y

See it if you like offbeat Fringe fare and have eclectic musical tastes -- the score is all over the place in a good way.

Don't see it if you want an ending in sync with the rest of the story -- it was too earnest compared to the flippant storytelling that preceded it.

Quirky, Great singing, Innovative

See it if you're looking for a quirky, quality show. The music was fun and the actors were talented. The use of projections was fresh and fantastic.

Don't see it if you're looking for a more serious or classic show.

Clever, Quirky, Great singing, Great staging, Unique

See it if Unique, dark/funny musical about the death of 6 teenagers set in a decayed amusement park. Fantastic! You won't see anything else like this.

Don't see it if The theme of death or the creepy carnival set would bother you. Each actor was great & had a moment to shine. Great set & special effects.

Also I loved the Zoltar-type carnival fortune teller machine as narrator. S... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Clever, Delightful, Thought-provoking, Quirky

See it if you enjoy clever staging, enjoy shows where each character's personality is highlighted, can appreciate varied types of music and subjects.

Don't see it if you want to see a traditional musical, expect a lot of belly laughs, want to see a show where there is a lot of change within each character

Also I really enjoyed the staging of the show! It was very well done and th... Read more Read less

Funny, Original, Clever, Quirky, Great singing

See it if you want to see a small talented young cast in an original, quirky musical; you are okay with a macabre, somewhat creepy & morbid, theme.

Don't see it if you don't like macabre, morbid shows about death; you prefer a linear plot with songs moving it along rather than showcasing each character

Thought-provoking, Must see, Great writing, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You want a great night of theater with super performances by all and things to ponder after it's over.

Don't see it if If you want more conventional theater experiences.

Absorbing, Clever, Exquisite, Great acting, Great singing

See it if You like a new take on American musicals!!!!

Don't see it if You lie soft and no substance plays

Delightful, Enchanting, Quirky, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You enjoy new and innovative musicals with a fun score. The set was astounding, the acting was terrific, the singing was great.

Don't see it if You don't like musicals with a small cast. The story isn't super fleshed out. But it's so much fun to watch, I forgive it this flaw.

Funny, Absorbing, Must see, Refreshing, Entertaining

See it if You're ok with an offbeat/dark view of things. You like a wide variety of musical styles. You want to see a fresh voice.

Don't see it if You are overly disturbed by death or macabre humor; otherwise it's just brilliant

Funny, Clever, Quirky, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you want to see a musical with a bit of a unique feel. RIDE THE CYCLONE was a ton of fun (and a bit morbid).

Don't see it if you don't want to see something that's a bit morbid.

Funny, Quirky, Overrated

See it if you want to see a professional and polished production of a fun and quirky story best suited for small fringe theatre

Don't see it if you want character development or variation in song style

Clever, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if You want to see talented younger actors giving their all, topic is disturbing but thought provoking

Don't see it if You want to avoid the topic of death or only like light fare

Ambitious, Clever, Quirky, Refreshing, Great singing

See it if a cross between The Breakfast Club and Final Destination 3 sounds intriguing to you. This was funny and different - I totally recommend it.

Don't see it if you have a strong fear of amusement park rides. Or amusement park fortune tellers. Or amusement parks in general.

Clever, Edgy, Refreshing, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You like offbeat songs and storytelling imaginatively staged, performed by a vivacious young cast.

Don't see it if You dislike a theme park setting or slightly morbid themes.

Funny, Clever, Edgy, Entertaining

See it if you want to see a fun, original musical with a talented cast.

Don't see it if you have a problem with young characters who are deceased.

Funny, Clever, Enchanting, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you enjoyed hanging out in the Village in your youth and want to relive an experience like "Vampire Lesbians of Sodom."

Don't see it if you never enjoyed going off the tracks. Avoid this show if you do not like something a bit bizarre or novel.

Also This is a fun, funny show with wonderful actors. The projections and t... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (23)