RIDE THE CYCLONE by Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell (Atomic Vaudeville/Acting Up/Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson). To December 3. $30-$35. 416-504-7529. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Ride The Cyclone lights up the Passe Muraille Mainspace, and the local theatre scene, like a crazy carnival. That's appropriate, since Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell's terrific show concerns six members of a youth choir who've died in a tragic amusement park ride.]
If that sounds morbid, it's intentional - one of the victims, in fact, is a Jane Doe whose decapitated head was never found. But there's lots of fun when, via a bit of magic involving an oracle and a bass-playing rodent (ya gotta be there), Jane and the others come alive one final time to tell and sing about their brief lives.
A huge hit at SummerWorks 2010, the show's been expanded, and if at times the additions mar the pacing, they don't detract from the power of the writing - and the superb performances.
Like a musical Breakfast Club, each of the characters gets to reveal their unrealized dreams. Noel (Kholby Wardell) is the town homo who channels his inner chanteuse, while the bossy Ocean (Rielle Braid) learns some Tea Party tactics from her school debates.
Most fun of all is Ricky (Elliott Loran), a geeky pianist whose hidden persona is a Ziggy Stardust-type character in a spandex silver suit.
Richmond and Maxwell's songs are catchy, clever and performed with balls-to-the-walls commitment. Treena Stubel's choreography enhances each number and director Britt Small makes sure every moment is clear and precise.
An undercurrent about happiness and acceptance adds some heart to the show, and there's even some metaphysical musing in the Jane Doe sections.
But mostly this production by Atomic Vaudeville, TPM and Acting Up is an outrageously fun show performed by young artists you'll be hearing lots about in years to come.