Southern Utah University’s production of “Ride the Cyclone” opens on Nov. 3 in the Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theater. The musical follows the story of six teenagers who die in a roller coaster accident but are given the opportunity for one of them to return to life. The show features several universal themes, like the importance of recognizing the experiences taking place in the present.
“It’s about the futility of life,” said A.J. Newbury, who plays Mischa, one of the teenagers. “It’s about enjoying the ride [and] living in the moment.”
Rehearsals began in late September under the direction of Britannia Howe, an SUU theatre faculty member and frequent director of the “Green Show” at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Cast members were encouraged to experiment in the rehearsal room, making discoveries about their characters and the staging of the production.
“It’s been really fun to see the show evolve by just having fun,” Newbury said. “Everyone is so talented and great at coming up with things in character.”
Cast members had the opportunity to work with Lillian Castillo, an SUU alum who played Constance in the world premiere cast recording of “Ride the Cyclone.” Castillo workshopped monologues over Zoom with each cast member, giving them insight into the production.
“It was so cool doing workshops with the person who is most known for portraying the character I’m currently portraying,” said Taya Christiansen, who portrays Constance. “She’s the sweetest person and gave everybody different angles to work with.”
There are several different musical styles throughout “Ride the Cyclone.” Each teenager adopts their own unique musical style, reflective of their individual characters, which leads to some interesting moments.
“I’m most excited to see how the audience goes along the journey with us on all the ups and downs,” said Christiansen. “There’s quite a lot.”
“Ride the Cyclone” will play in the Anes Theater on Nov. 3, 4, 6 and 10 at 7:30 p.m., as well as on Nov. 6 and 11 at 2 p.m. Tickets are free for SUU students with a valid ID, $16 for adults and $14 for youth. An opening carnival will be held on the Library Quad on Nov. 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, visit the Theatre, Dance, and Arts Administration website.
Story and photos by: Gracie Butterfield
Editor: Tessa Cheshire