By Glen Vaughn Petersen
A local theatre that gives opportunities to young artists with and without disabilities is putting on a production of Ride the Cyclone.
Spinning Tree Theatre, 8788 Metcalf in Overland Park, provides opportunities for those with and without disabilities to work alongside professional artists in creating and performing plays since 2010. That year, south Kansas Citian Andrew Grayman-Parkhurst and his husband Michael moved from New York City to Kansas City to start a small theatre company.
“After nine strong seasons, Spinning Tree’s 10th anniversary season was canceled due to the pandemic. We spent that forced down-time dreaming about what the theatre could become upon reopening,” explains Andrew.
Ride the Cyclone, written by Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell and premiering in 2008, is the story of members of the St. Cassian High School chamber choir in Uranium City, Saskatchewan. After a ride on the titular Cyclone roller coaster goes horribly wrong, the spirits of these teenagers are approached by a mechanical fortune teller who will give only one of them the chance to return to life.
In recent years, the musical has seen a resurgence of success online, finding prevalence with teens and twenty-somethings on social media, especially TikTok. “Upon listening to the recording and reading the script, Michael and I fell in love with the piece,” says Andrew of the musical. “Ride the Cyclone is about teenagers, so the piece fits perfectly into our mission of working with young artists. The musical is a celebration of life. It is such a heart-filled, hilarious night at the theatre.”
When asked about his favorite aspect of the production, Andrew’s answer was simple. “Working with eight extremely talented young artists! Neither Spinning Tree Theatre nor Ride the Cyclone talk down to teenagers,” notes Andrew. “Instead, we work to authentically represent young voices. The artistic choices that these teens are making each day at rehearsal is powerful to witness.”
Spinning Tree Theatre’s production of Ride the Cyclone runs from November 3rd to November 12th, with ASL-interpreted performances on November 4th and 5th. For more information regarding showtimes and ticketing, please visit Spinning Tree Theatre’s website.