The Toronto Star gives Ride The Cyclone 4 out of 4 stars!

The Toronto Star just gave our production of Ride The Cyclone an unqualified rave!

Read the full review here >>

**** (out of 4)

By Jacob Richmond & Brooke Maxwell. Directed by Richmond & Britt Small. Until Dec. 3 at Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Ave. 416-504-7529 or

Stop waiting for the next big thing, Toronto, because it’s finally here.

Ride the Cyclone, which opened at Theatre Passe Muraille Monday night is not only as good as all the advance hype would lead you to believe, but it’s the most awe-inspiring, truly entertaining, heart-tugging, toe-tapping musical I’ve seen in years.

It may not sound like the premise on which musical theatre dreams are built, but believe me, it is.

A high school chamber choir from Uranium City dies in a freak accident on roller coaster called The Cyclone. Only they get to come back from the dead to perform a final concert.

Yeah, it is the anti-Glee. Real emotions keep popping through synthetic songs and a dark cloud of mortality hanging over it all instead of a mirror ball (although one appears in the final scene, just to let you know that they can!).

No autotune for this killer cast — all their singing, like their acting, is straight from the heart.

Only an idiot could play favourites here because they’re all great. Kholby Wardell is the flashiest one, playing Noel Gruber, the only gay kid in town, who laments the fact he died “without seeing Paris or kissing another man,” but he makes up for it in a French cabaret send-up that’s devastating and sexy at the same time.

Rielle Braid is the born-bossy one, Ocean Rosenberg, with a Jewish father, a bitch Irish mother, and a passion for Karl Marx. All these conflicting influences wind up destroying her at a debate tournament in a song as hilarious as it is cynical.

Another showstopper is Ricky Potts, the geek who’s rubber limbs and self-mocking smile serve him well when he dresses up in silver spandex to play the new superhero, Bachelor Man.

Matthew Coulson has an amazing combination of agility and brute force as the Ukranian immigrant kid; Misha Bachinsky whose two loves are Gangsta Rap and Russian ballet; Sarah Pelzer’s empty-eyed agony will slay you as Jane Doe, the anonymous victim of the accident; and Kelly Hudson brings it all home as Constance Blackwood, the happy chubby girl who finds out too late how sweet her life really was in a tumultuous gospel number.

The cast are brilliant, but the real geniuses are Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell who wrote this astonishing piece.

Richmond’s book and lyrics know just how to cut deeply with the deftest stroke (“They came from Seoul to a city that had none”), while Maxwell’s music is incredibly artful, co-opting traditional forms without ever descending into pastiche and uniting them with a contemporary sound.

Ultimately this is a sad story, about a generation with no place to go — nowhere for their dreams to become reality; a group who are maybe better off dying in their prime, before they can get disillusioned.

Thanks to Andy McKim at Theatre Passe Muraille and Mitchell Marcus from Acting Up Stage Company for guiding this gem to us.

Ride the Cyclone. I promise you’ll never forget it.