The Who’s Who of Ride the Cyclone: Karl Hamilton as The Amazing Karnak

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Meet Karl Hamilton, one of the stars of a wild ride of a musical: Ride the Cyclone. At 8:17 PM, the Saint Cassian High School Chamber Choir will board the Cyclone roller coaster. At 8:19, the front axle will break, sending them to their tragic demise. Trapped in fantastical carnival-like purgatory, the recently deceased teens discover a mechanical fortune teller (Hamilton), who invites them to tell their stories of life interrupted, with the promise of a prize like no other.

This show has been through a few years of continued development, starting in Canada with Atomic Vaudeville before debuting in the US in Chicago and playing Off Broadway. Now the show continues to develop in Seattle. When/where did you join this show’s journey? What has your experience been like so far?

Karl Hamilton: I joined the roller coaster with the first workshops in Chicago and have been strapped in for as long as I can. Cyclone is like no other project I’ve worked on. It’s my kind of crazy.

Can you tell us a little bit about your character?

KH: The Amazing Karnak is a fortune telling machine prevented from telling the whole truth by his factory settings, but endowed with the power to bring one person back to life. He spends his last hour of existence helping 6 teens find their truest selves.

In what ways do you identify with your character?

KH: His sardonic sense of humor and dry delivery is my bread and butter, but most of all, Karnak and I share a belief in the real beauty of humanity. 

What’s the biggest challenge about taking on this role?

KH: People often think it’s remaining still or moving mechanically, but the hardest part of my job is sitting next to this thrilling, hilarious, touching piece of music theatre magic and NOT being able to react to it. That’s the hardest. 

What are you enjoying most about being in Ride the Cyclone?

KH: It reminds me that life is so precious and much too short to ever worry about failure or embarrassment. 

This musical is brand new to Seattle so most people probably know very little about it. What’s one thing you think audiences should know before the house lights go down?

KH: Come as you are – perfectly imperfect. 

Without giving anything away, can you share your favorite line of dialogue?

KH: “Broken down and simplified all that you can do is buckle in and hang on for the ride.”

You can see Karl and the rest of the incredible cast of Ride The Cyclone at the ACT Theatre now through May 20th. Get your tickets here.

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