Meet Connor Russell, 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, 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?
Connor Russell: I had the opportunity to work with our Ride the Cyclone director Rachel Rockwell at The Old Globe in San Diego right before the New York production happened. I heard about the show and thought it sounded so interesting, and when I got the call to audition for the ACT/5th production I was thrilled. I’m so excited to be a new addition to the company.
Can you tell us a little bit about your character?
CR: My character’s name is Ricky Potts. In his life, he had a degenerative disease that limited his speech and movement. But in our purgatory world, he gains many abilities he didn’t possess in life, like movement, speech and then some.
In what ways do you identify with your character?
CR: Ricky has an imagination that is far beyond what most adults allow themselves to have. It’s been fun exploring his almost childlike ability to not filter his fantasies.
What’s the biggest challenge about taking on this role?
CR: Once the show gets started it really doesn’t stop. It’s a ride in every sense of the word!
What are you enjoying most about being in Ride the Cyclone?
CR: It’s been incredibly fulfilling joining a company that has been so open and welcoming, especially being a new addition to the show. Also, there is nothing better than creating with talented artists who believe in a piece with their whole heart.
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?
CR: Expect the unexpected. “It gets weird now.”
Without giving anything away, can you share your favorite line of dialogue?
CR: “Level Up.”
You can see Connor and the rest of the incredible cast of Ride The Cyclone at the ACT Theatre now through May 20th. Get your tickets here.