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Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

BWMT tempts audiences to ‘Ride the Cyclone’ in Beck Center collaboration

Beck Center performance takes audiences on ‘emotional rollercoaster.’
Courtesy of Benjamin Michael Hall
Actors and actresses rehearse for the musical, which premieres on Feb. 9.

Baldwin Wallace University musical theatre students seek to enchant audiences in the regional premiere of “Ride the Cyclone,” running for three consecutive weeks at the Beck Center for the Arts.

Directed by Victoria Bussert, BW’s director of music theatre, “Ride the Cyclone” opens with the Amazing Karnak, a fortune-telling automaton who serves as the show’s narrator. He tells the story of six teenagers who died while riding The Cyclone, a malfunctioning roller coaster. The teens arrive in Karnak’s limbo and are given the chance to compete against one another in a game of life and death, where one of them can return to their life.

Sophomore music theater student Kyle MacDonald, who plays Ricky Potts in the Maverick cast, said that although the show explores heavy themes of death, it is a very “fun, quirky, out-there musical” that is “unlike any musical [he’s] been a part of.”

Within its 90-minute run time, each character performs a showstopping routine about why they should be the one to return to life. The numbers are heavily choreographed and show off each character’s quirks. MacDonald said that he even learned how to play the accordion for this role.

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“I get to play the accordion in one of the numbers, which is new for me and very exciting,” MacDonald said.

Benjamin Michael Hall on stage rehearsing for “Ride the Cyclone.” Photo by Kyle MacDonald.

Four of the six main roles are double-casted, meaning that two students perform their role on alternating nights. These cast members learn from each other and gain new interpretations of the script.

Ocean is one of the characters that is double-casted. Izzy Baker, sophomore music theater student who plays Ocean in the Raptor cast, said that working with another person is an enjoyable experience.

“I love working with someone else. It’s so crazy how one person can be played so many different ways.”

With a small cast, assistant stage manager Stephanie Montini said the double-casting makes it easier for the actors and crew members to form relationships and work together to create a show with great spectacle and a lot of heart.

“It’s a great experience,” Montini said. “I’m excited for it all to come together and for the show to happen. I love working with all different kinds of people.”

Working in the Beck Center for the Arts allows students to work with grand sets and exciting technical elements that are otherwise unavailable at BW, such as a fully functional Ferris wheel and projections, MacDonald said.

Running for three weekends at Beck Center for the Arts provides students with experience working in a professional environment for a limited run, preparing the students for future opportunities with a similar structure.

“I think it’ll be interesting to have a show run for three weekends,” Montini said. “That’s not really something I’ve worked with before.”

By performing “Ride the Cyclone” at the Beck Center, BWMT students can share their talents with the wider Cleveland community, taking audiences on an “emotional rollercoaster” that will have them questioning their values while humming their favorite tune from the show, MacDonald said.

“I hope that they may come to see a comedic show in a different way,” Baker said. “This show has a lot of [fun and comedy], but I think it has a lot more, and I hope that they can see that there is a way to do that in both ways.”

“The audience probably should prepare to be led on a ride,” Baker said. “Life really is just a ride, and you go to so many places and meet so many people. But in the end, it’s all about the journey, and it’s all about the ride itself.”

“Ride the Cyclone” will run from Feb. 9-25, excluding Mondays and Tuesdays. Tickets can be purchased at

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