By Emily Jiang ’24
Stony Batter Players, Mercersburg Academy’s student theatre company, will present Ride the Cyclone February 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. in the Burgin Center for the Arts’ Simon Theatre. A livestream link is also available to view the performance on Friday evening. All are welcome to attend virtually or in person.
Ride the Cyclone is the story of six high school students in a sort of purgatory, trying to prove they deserve a second chance at life. In the musical, each student sings a song about themselves and their lives. The songs cover a variety of musical styles, from hip-hop to love ballads.
When asked how the piece was chosen, Kelly Dowling, arts department chair, explained, “A group of students saw the show at Arena Stage last year and asked for it to be put into consideration for production here. After feedback from a variety of community members and the school administration, it felt like this was a great choice for the students in our program (considering) the size of our casts the last few years.”
Members of the cast who saw the Arena show or have heard the soundtrack are looking forward to working on a show they personally like, and everyone is excited about the aerial work. Dowling is also pleased to be bringing choreographers who are first-generation Ukrainian immigrants to the school to choreograph the number that is sung by a Ukrainian character. This collaboration coincides with the fundraiser to benefit a Ukrainian charity.
An exciting part of the winter musical is the installation of and choreography on two aerial, or wirework, systems. Wirework in productions enables characters to appear as if they are in flight on stage.
“Adding the aerial or wirework is a pretty complicated business,” Dowling said.
For the students, it is like learning choreography, but it adds a significant amount of time to planning for the adults involved.
On the Fly Productions, the company providing aerial systems to Ride the Cyclone, works extensively with Broadway shows, as well as companies like Cirque du Soleil. The realistic flying effects are spectacular and incorporate multiple safety measures. Students will spend several hours choreographing their movements for each number that uses the wires.
See a list of the cast and crew.
Admission is free with plenty of general seating for each show. Those who wish to reserve a seat may do so at this link. Concessions will benefit a Ukrainian charity. Event contact information for the Burgin Center for the Arts is email@example.com or 717-328-6349.
Pictured above: Students rehearse for Ride the Cyclone.