U.S. premiere of new musical

Ride the Cyclone

Directed and choreographed by Rachel Rockwell
Begins performances September 29, 2015

Chicago—September 1, 2015—Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) announces the cast and creative team for the U.S. premiere of Ride the Cyclone, a new musical with a refreshingly offbeat twist from Brooke Maxwell and Jacob Richmond, directed and choreographed by multiple Jeff Award-winner Rachel Rockwell. Originating as a cult classic cabaret piece in Canada, this dark musical comedy is being further developed with Chicago Shakespeare Creative Producer Rick Boynton for its highly anticipated American debut, presented in the theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare, September 29–November 8, 2015.

Part comedy, part tragedy—and wholly unexpected—this wildly original musical delivers surprises at every hairpin turn. The lives of six teenagers from the St. Cassian chamber choir are cut short in a freak accident aboard a doomed roller coaster. A mechanical fortune-teller, The Amazing Karnak, invites each to compete for the singular opportunity to return to life. Through a score that encompasses everything from pop and glam rock to Brechtian cabaret and rap, they share their stories—weaving a tale that is funny, irreverent and ultimately heartrending. Add in a funky bass-playing rat named Virgil, and nothing in this entire journey is quite as it seems.

At once quirky and smart, edgy and beautiful, Ride the Cyclone began life as a song cycle from the Canadian theater company Atomic Vaudeville. Its combination of uproarious humor and macabre subject matter earned it a cult following among audiences across Canada. Multi-talented creative duo Brooke Maxwell and Jacob Richmond have collaborated to create the book, music and lyrics for the musical. Maxwell is a celebrated composer and musician, with previous works including the English premiere of And Slowly Beauty and the North American premiere of A Tender Thing. Richmond serves as the artistic director of Atomic Vaudeville and has been widely recognized for his playwriting, garnering numerous awards across Canada, including the Montreal English Critic’s Circle Award.

Highlighting the Theater’s commitment to new work, lauded Chicago musical theater director Rachel Rockwell joins forces with CST Creative Producer Rick Boynton to further develop the piece for its U.S. premiere. Returning to Chicago Shakespeare for her tenth production, Rockwell has also directed and choreographed Jeff Award-winning musicals at The Marriott Theatre, The Goodman Theatre and Drury Lane Oakbrook. Rockwell is joined by Musical Director Doug Peck, a six-time Jeff Award-winner for musical direction at theaters across the city. In his role as creative producer, Boynton oversees the development of a wide spectrum of new work including new musicals, re-imagined classics and collaborations with international artists.

“The development of new work is essential to Chicago Shakespeare—whether it’s adapting a classic as we did with the new musical of Sense and Sensibility or adapting Othello into hip-hop with the Q Brothers,” said Boynton. “We are thrilled to contribute to the journey of this piece, and share storytelling that is so unique, so fresh.”

A talented ensemble brings the eclectic cast of characters of Ride the Cyclone to life. Tiffany Tatreau performs the role of Ocean O’Connell Rosenberg, the straight-A overachiever and high school class president. Lillian Castillo plays Constance Blackwood, the “nicest girl in homeroom.” Kholby Wardell portrays the unfulfilled dreamer Noel Gruber, while Russell Mernagh appears as the handsome Ukranian bad boy, Mischa Bachinski. Jackson Evans plays Ricky Potts, a kid yearning to unlock his inner potential. Emily Rohm takes on the role of the mysterious Jane Doe—an unidentified girl in a choir uniform whom nobody seems to remember. Karl Hamilton appears as the mechanical fortune-telling machine The Amazing Karnak.

Joining Rockwell and Peck on the creative team is Associate Music Director Michael Kaish, who will also lead the onstage five-piece band, featuring a bass guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, cello and percussion. Ericka Mac serves as the production’s Associate Director/Choreographer. Scenic Designer Scott Davis, Lighting Designer Greg Hofmann and Projection Designer Mike Tutaj have transformed the theater Upstairs into a subversive, run-down carnival, complete with a set of dilapidated roller coaster tracks. Chicago Shakespeare’s Associate Sound Master Palmer Jankens is the production’s Sound Designer. Jeff Award-winners Theresa Ham and Melissa Veal serve as Costume Designer and Wig and Make-up Designer, depicting each character’s signature style.

For a complete performance listing and more information about the production, visit

Ride the Cyclone will be performed in the theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare September 29–November 8, 2015. Tickets are on sale now for $30-48 with special discounts available for groups of 10 or more, as well as CST for $20 tickets available for patrons under 35. All patrons receive a 40% discount on guaranteed parking in Navy Pier garages. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) is a leading international theater company and the recipient of the Regional Theatre Tony Award®. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, CST is dedicated to creating extraordinary production of classics, new works and family programming; to unlocking Shakespeare’s work for educators and students; and to serving as Chicago’s cultural ambassador through its World’s Stage Series. Through a year-round season encompassing more than 650 performances, CST attracts 225,000 audience members annually. One in four of its audience members is under eighteen years old, and today its education programs have impacted the learning of over one million students. CST is proud to take an active role in empowering the next generation of literate, engaged cultural champions and creative minds.





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