A Rollercoaster of a Time: Lively Reviews for Ride The Cyclone

- Reviews

by N Klepczarek

The haunting North Central Theatre Department musical, Ride the Cyclone, enthralled students this semester and gathered significant reviews. After viewing the whimsical production myself, I interviewed three students about their experience visiting Uranium City’s carnival. To set you up with the background on what Ride the Cyclone is and how it was produced at North Central, check out Lola Furbee’s article and the North Central Ride the Cyclone dramaturg. Just like how the audience was taken along on this roller coaster ride of a show, let me take you along on a ride through the production’s pre-show, during-show, and post-show reviews.



Reviewers Dylan Strohl and Lily Bucciarelli, who are avid theatregoers, both mentioned that they’d been long-time fans of Ride the Cyclone and had watched a version of it (and even listened to its music like real fans do) before seeing North Central’s rendition. They had high expectations walking into it this semester. Even reviewer Gray Bunch, who’d only seen a few productions before and hadn’t heard of Ride the Cyclone prior to seeing it at North Central, didn’t expect to be as blown away by it as they were.

As some of the reviewers mentioned, the entire scene was set upon entering, including the immersing signs, quality set decor, the ambient roller coaster noises, and the ominous lighting before the show even started. From the enthralling announcements to the machine-like qualities of the Karnak actress, the verisimilitude really put the viewers in the the setting of the show.

Lily described the moments that she entered the roller coaster-themed theater: “When walking in, the signs stated that you must be a certain height to ride the cyclone.”

Each of the reviewers mentioned that the pre-show announcements really reeled them in, such as, “The capacity for this ride is full. If there are any open seats near you, skooch together in your carts to help the last ones boarding get a seat on the ride!” and, “The ride is about to begin! Please secure your glasses, hats, and belongings in the cart at all times.”

Dylan, who’d watched the performance at North Central back-to-back nights, said:
“I remember the second time I watched it, I was with my family, and a couple minutes before the show started, my grandma leaned over to me and asked, ‘Is that a real person?’ She thought [Karnak] was just a set decoration.”



After the characters reached the limbo space of being dead and were offered to compete to come back to life, each actor took talent-filled turns showing their characters’ personality, charisma, and skill. I was personally blown away by the scenes showing Mishka, who had a shockingly close-up, heart-wrenching rap scene where the actor leaned into the audience with cinematic-quality spotlight on him, and Noel, who showed no shame in expressing his lust-filled desire of a raunchy dream with no filter. In “Noel’s Lament,” Noel reminded Lily and I of Angel Dust, a character from an Amazon series called Hazbin Hotel, which opportunely debuted just before NC put on Ride the Cyclone this year.

Lily reviewed: “When everyone first walked in, I was like, this casting is crazy because I knew exactly which actor was which character [even before their introductions]. And I was like, oh, maybe I’m wrong. And then everyone started talking, I was like, no, no, no. I know I’m right. I just couldn’t even believe it like that. It was matched up so well.”

Gray Bunch began reflecting that the actor, Spencer, who played the Ukrainian rapper Mishka, “gave a spectacular performance, like they did rap, they did singing, they did dancing, the trifecta. It was perfect. And then, also the person who played Noel…it was great to see him embrace his femininity and his masculinity at the same time, and the way he gave the sassiness was hilarious!”

And Lily got the chance to sit front and center, almost right by the stage, in a seat by the walkway that the actors used during their performance. In one scene, the actors of Constance and Ricky sat in the walkway right beside Lily, practically on her toes! During her review with me, she commented, “Yeah, that part when it panned over to them for a second. Like, genuinely if they had to lift up their arms for anything, they would have hit me.”

Dylan commented, “I know a lot of the audience were college students, of course, and that made the atmosphere very specific where everyone was very celebratory toward the actors, like, very loud laughing for a minute, clapping for minutes…but when I invited my family, they all loved it. They thought that everyone was very good, so I feel like it was kind of a show for anyone that would enjoy [this genre of performances].”



After the show, this upbeat, haunting musical stuck with us like a ghost over our heads. I asked which character was their favorite, what are some overall highlights, and how they would rate it out of 10..

Q: Which character was your favorite?

Although my favorite character was Noel, by far, I asked the reviewers who their favorite character was.


Lily: “I don’t know, everyone was so good! I thought it would be obvious. When we first started, I was like, oh my God, Karnak’s gonna steal the whole show, but then everyone just kept delivering. And it was like every line that someone delivered, I was like, that’s my favorite. Wait, no, that’s my favorite. It was that good, you know?”

Dylan: “I really liked the Jane Doe. That was really well done and her song is, I think, the best in the musical.


Q: How do you feel after watching the performance?

Lily: “I actually listened to the songs on the ride home. I was just adding them to my playlist throughout the week, like just a quick add here and there. So, it kind of brought me back a little.”

Gray: “Overall it was such a great performance, and I would go again if North Central put out another production of it. Oh my God, it is one of my favorites all time. It’s so good and I’m obsessed with it. I would love to go see it again.”

Dylan: “I was very excited because I had never seen it live before. And I know I go to the musicals here all the time, so I knew they were going to do a good job. So, I was very excited for it. I liked it a lot, partially because I just like Ride the Cyclone a lot, but the all the performances were great…and the design…the costumes…it was great! I went twice, so I went on two different days so that I could see more of it. After seeing it the first time, I could see if there were any details. I didn’t see the first time. That’s really cool.”


Q: How would you rate Ride the Cyclone at North Central College?

Gray: “It was 100% good, it was mind-blowing”

Dylan: “I’d give it a 9 out of 10. It definitely exceeded my expectations, and I had very high expectations. I feel like if you’ve seen a professional level production of something and if you listen to one version of a song 1000 times and then listen to a different version, the one you’ve heard the most is going to sound best to you.”

Lily: “It has to be pretty close to a 10, honestly. Wow. I’m not gonna lie. I would say maybe the only other thing I’ve seen that comes close was when Lincoln-Way East [High School] did Hunchback.”



Ride the Cyclone, directed by Claribel Gross and Jeremy Ohringer. Music: Kevin Disch. Scenic: Brian Redfern. Lighting: Ruby Lowe. Costumes: Taylor Dobes.

Photos by North Central College student Ayano Shimizu

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