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Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater announced today the cast for the D.C. premiere of Ride the Cyclone, a “delightfully weird and just plain delightful show” (The New York Times) that literally takes its characters—and audience—on the ride of their lives. Arena Stage’s Kreeger Theater will be transformed into somewhere between earth and—well, not earth—when Ride the Cyclone plays from January 13 – February 19, 2023. Press Night will be held on Thursday, January 19 at 8 p.m. For information and tickets, please visit arenastage.org/cyclone

This quirky, edgy cult musical by Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell delivers surprises at every turn as it follows six teen chamber choir singers, whose lives are cut short in a freak roller coaster accident. Stuck in the afterlife, a mechanical fortuneteller gives them a chance to sing their way back to earth. Part comedy, part tragedy, and wholly enchanting, Ride the Cyclone shines a light on the resilience of the human spirit, and reminds us of how great it is to be alive.

The Arena Stage production is in partnership with Princeton University’s McCarter Theatre Center, where it played to critical and audience acclaim in spring 2022. Ride the Cyclone had its world premiere in Victoria, B.C. in 2008, followed by its U.S. premiere at Chicago Shakespeare Theater in 2015 and a hit Off-Broadway production by MCC Theatre in 2016. The Washington, D.C., premiere will see several of the McCarter run’s cast and creative team return, including McCarter’s artistic director, Sarah Rasmussen, who will reprise her role as director.

“I am extremely excited to collaborate with Arena on Ride the Cyclone,” said Rasmussen. “As with any piece of theater, the team continues to make new discoveries, and I can’t wait to see them brought to life for Arena Stage patrons by this wildly imaginative creative team.” 


“Ride the Cyclone starts with tragic loss but ends with the audience feeling alive,” said Smith. “Already a cult hit, people are addicted to the music and originality of the story. The piece has continued to grow over the years, and with every production, something new has been learned. We look forward to bringing the most current iteration to Arena, and I know Sarah’s direction will keep us glued to the roller coaster as we sing along.”

This will be Rasmussen’s second time in Arena’s Kreeger Theater, having served as associate director on the pre-Broadway world premiere of A Time to Kill during Arena’s 2010/2011 Season—the first after the opening of the Mead Center for American Theater.

“Ride the Cyclone feels really relevant in this time,” said Rasmussen. “At its heart it asks: ‘When life goes off the rails, what really matters?’ The last few years have been very difficult, and our collective grief and loss is real. I hope this project honors our own agency in also seeing the good around us, what we might be grateful for, and how that might shift how we see ourselves and each other.”  

“This was written in 2008 and we are thrilled that in 2023 a younger generation is attracted to this musical,” said playwright Jacob Richmond. “We have been interested in exploring changes that continue its journey as a theatre piece, and look forward to the production.” 

“In some ways, Ride the Cyclone reminds me of my favorite play Our Town,” mused Rasmussen, “asking if we really realize life while we are living it. Musicals invite us to feel more alive, giving us a little more energy and magic to take back into the world. This is a full circle moment for me; to not just return as director to a place that inspired me so much, but to bring my own kids there as well!”

Joining from the McCarter staging and making their Arena Stage debuts are Ashlyn Maddox (New York City Center’s Parade), Nick Martinez (Kennedy Center’s The Who’s Tommy), Eli Mayer (The Muny’s Footloose), and Matthew Boyd Snyder (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory National Tour). Also making their Arena Stage debuts are Gabrielle Dominique (Jungle Theater’s Ride the Cyclone), Marc Geller (Hanover Theatre’s A Christmas Carol), Shinah Hey (Guthrie’s The Music Man), Ashley D. Nguyen (Olney Theatre’s Dance Nation), and Wood Van Meter (Shakespeare Theatre’s Kiss Me, Kate).

In association with McCarter Theatre Center


Book, Music & Lyrics by Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell
Directed by Sarah Rasmussen

Original Choreography by Jim Lichtscheidl

Additional Choreography by Tiger Brown

In the Kreeger Theater | January 13 – February 19, 2023


In Ride the Cyclone, the lives of six teen chamber choir singers are cut short in a freak roller coaster accident. Stuck in the afterlife, a mechanical fortuneteller gives them a chance to sing their way back to earth. This quirky, edgy cult musical is part comedy, part tragedy, wholly enchanting, and will make you feel great about being alive!


Constance Blackwood: Gabrielle Dominique*

The Amazing Karnak: Marc Geller*

Ocean O’Connell Rosenberg: Shinah Hey*

Jane Doe: Ashlyn Maddox*

Noel Gruber: Nick Martinez*

Mischa Bachinski / Dance Captain: Eli Mayer*

Swing: Ashley D. Nguyen*

Ricky Potts: Matthew Boyd Snyder*

Swing: Wood Van Meter*

TICKETS: Tickets for Ride the Cyclone are $66-105 plus applicable fees. Ticket prices and availability are subject to change. Arena Stage’s many savings programs include “pay your age” tickets for those aged 30 and under, student discounts, and “Southwest Nights” for those living and working in the District’s Southwest neighborhood. To learn more, please visit arenastage.org/savings-programs.

Tickets are available at arenastage.org.

Tickets may also be purchased by phone at 202-488-3300, or in person at the Sales Office at 1101 Sixth Street, SW, D.C., Tuesday–Sunday, 12-8 p.m. 

Sales Office/Subscriptions: 202-488-3300

Group Sales Hotline for 10+ Tickets: 202-488-4380


Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Weekday matinees at 12 p.m. on January 26, February 1, and February 8

No performance on January 31

Early Curtain: Sunday, January 29 at 6 p.m.

Southwest Nights: Sunday, January 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Wednesday, January 25 at 7:30 p.m.

Audio-Described Performance: Saturday, January 28 at 2 p.m.

ASL-Interpreted Performance: Saturday, February 18 at 8 p.m.
Closed Captioning: GalaPro begins Friday, January 20

Post-Show Conversations

Connect with the show beyond the performance at a post-show conversation with artists and staff on January 26, February 1, and February 8 following the 12 p.m. matinees; on February 2 following the 8 p.m. performance; and on February 14 following the 7:30 p.m. performance.

Full Calendar: arenastage.org/tickets/calendar

SAFETY: Arena Stage requires that patrons, staff, and volunteers wear facial masks inside the Mead Center, unless actively eating or drinking, regardless of vaccination status. These conditions are subject to change, and Arena continues to consult with medical professionals, monitor government best practice recommendations, and engage in industry trainings to ensure the health and safety of our patrons, artists, and staff. For up-to-date information, visit arenastage.org/safety.

TRAVEL: Limited parking is available in Arena Stage’s on-site garage for $18 to $30, including drive-up valet parking for $30. Call 202-488-3300 to purchase in advance. For more information on transportation to and other parking options around the Mead Center, please visit arenastage.org/transportation.

For complete 2022/23 Season details, visit arenastage.org/season.