Rave review of USF's College of The Arts production of Ride the Cyclone - Broadway World
“This musical may involve [the] presentation of ideas that you find uncomfortable, disagreeable, or even offensive. You may judge the characters. In fact, you’re supposed to. You might find them wanting. Humans often are.” --from the RIDE THE CYCLONE preshow announcement
Rarely has so much buzz surrounded a college theatre production. Even a drama teacher friend of mine from Vermont mentioned over the phone that he had heard all about it from his former students. I had known for quite some time that the dark, quirky, hilarious and heartfelt RIDE THE CYCLONE was a favorite among current teens, but I had never imagined this kind of hoopla. But I should have known because this musical has the two main ingredients that connects with today’s youths: Damaged teenage characters and death.
When I arrived at the University of South Florida's Theatre 2 an hour and fifteen minutes early, a large line had already snaked around the building; by 7:00 PM, when we were eventually let into the theatre for the 7:30 showtime, I wondered if the line had twisted and turned all the way to the parking lot of the Theatre & Dance building. As they had in other cult musicals (like The Rocky Horror Picture Show), several audience members came donned as the RIDE THE CYCLONE characters, doppelgangers for Ocean O’Connell and Constance Blackwood. It was a full house. Seventy people had to be turned away on opening night, and another twenty could not get in the Friday performance that I witnessed.
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