Keeping up with Kincaid: would I “ride the cyclone?”

Managing+Editor%2C+Laken+Kincaid%2C+discusses+their+thoughts+from+the+past+few+weeks

Laken Kincaid

Managing Editor, Laken Kincaid, discusses their thoughts from the past few weeks

Laken Kincaid, Managing Editor

Duty nights as a resident assistant at JCU can be tedious from time to time. Approximately two times a week, I sit in an exposed office for anywhere between four to six hours (more if I have an incident) and pray for silence. If nothing goes wrong, I am in the clear. If something happens, I am the first response. However, knock on wood, not much has happened during my own personal RA tenure (besides some vomit here and there).

Therefore, I spend a lot of quiet nights waiting for something to go wrong which, besides the drastic implications, is rather boring. Doing homework seems like an obvious choice to pass time but, after a long day with lectures and combing through textbooks, I often prefer to sit back and watch a show or movie. Recently, I chose to take 90 minutes out of the monotony to watch a musical that recently took over social media: “Ride the Cyclone.”

I knew the show would be an easy watch, after all it is in a medium that I am all too familiar with. Social media made the play seem monumental with a message that changes mindsets. Naturally, I wrote this off and thought of my brain as a stubborn stronghold, impossible to bend to the emotional appeals of fictional sing-song characters. Luckily, I was happily mistaken. Now, consider this your spoiler warning because I believe this musical deserves to be discussed as concisely as possible to do its plot true justice so I will be delving into as many gritty details that I can muster.

“Ride the Cyclone” follows a particularly unconventional story. Six teenagers, all members of the St. Cassian High School chamber choir in the sleepy town of Uranium City, board a thrill ride after a muted performance at their local fair. Catastrophically, the coaster crashes, killing all of those involved at the apex of the loopty-loop. 

All six teenagers pass and one is entirely decapitated, making her the lone, unidentified body of the Cyclone Coaster Disaster. In the afterlife, they are greeted by a mechanical fortune teller known as Karnak who says that one of them can be revived by a unanimous vote from all parties involved. 

Ocean O’Connell Rosenberg, the bold leader of the choir, asserts her dominance by saying that she should be chosen because she has the best chance at changing the world (ruining her relationships with every other choir member). The next contestant, Noel Gruber, says that he should be chosen because he did not get to live the tragic life he read about growing up, he feels as if his true legacy was never fulfilled. Mischa Bachinski, the self described Ukrainian bad boy, says he should be chosen so he could have a relationship with his fiance, Talia. In a surprise course of events, Ricky Potts, a young boy with a degenerative disorder that made him a mute in his waking life, concedes the contest and accepts his own death in exchange for living in a false reality. Lastly, Constance Blackwood, explains that she knows that she took her life for granted because she saw everyone around her as pathetic nobodies in her dead end town that she never appreciated while alive.

Amidst all of these pleas is the mystery contestant, Jane Doe, unknown to not only the other teenagers but everyone in her life. She sports the head of a doll because the police never located anything above her shoulders at the scene of the incident. 

Where the others showed baby pictures and memories while discussing their lives, Jane has nothing. The case she made for her revival is constructed through her tune “The Ballad of Jane Doe” where, as plainly as possible, she asks “now that all is said and done, isn’t there anyone to tell me who I am?”

With only ten minutes left in the musical, Ocean is given the final decision of who to revive with herself still a viable option. Even though she originally stated that she would only be picking herself, she surprisingly choses to revive Jane. Why? Because “to say that when one dies young that they died needlessly is to discount the years they had. [She voted] for the girl who can’t remember any of it. We had a life, she didn’t.”

Ocean knew she could never choose to save herself because she at least had a fulfilling life while it lasted. Jane lost everything with her identity. 

Jane is then saved and the group learns that her real name is Penny Lamb. After her resurgence, she ends up living into her old age, creating many memories and supporting a family with her returned years. Penny, the girl who originally died nameless as a teenager, dies from old age surrounded by loved ones. The other members accept their fate as they watch Penny thrive and, as the lyrics go, “the world will keep spinning with no ending or beginning. So, just take a look around.”

To be fair, I would love to dissect the entire anatomy of this musical and examine it with as much detail as possible. However, I know that it would be more like a book report instead of a column and I am conscious of my limited time (see what I did there?). Instead, let me focus on the overall message of the plot: all moments are fleeting, even if life itself. Enjoy every moment you have left. 

As Ocean insinuates, life is sometimes not the most beautiful thing. There are hardships that every person experiences (“it is a ride that goes round and round”). Ocean herself fled from her hippie parents to become the perfectionist, straight A student she is.

However, at any minute, no matter your GPA, it could all be lost; it could even happen in some freak roller coaster accident that no one predicted. The important thing is that, yes, there are rough patches, but at least you have something to look back at. You have an identity, you have friends, you are not a Jane Doe but rather a Penny Lamb.

I understand that sometimes it is difficult to appreciate your own existence. After having my own minor brush with death in high school, I feel happy to still be around. I developed the mindset that Ocean had because of the terror that everything could be stripped away from me at any second.

Yet, during trivial tasks like RA duty, I sometimes wish for time to move faster. I spend classes dozing because I would rather be with friends or in bed. Nevertheless, at times when things seem awry or even downright boring, I am trying to develop a habit to where I remember that I at least have something, 20 years of something. 

As “Ride the Cyclone” suggests, “This ride, it has heartbreak. This ride, it has pain. All kinds of blue skies, no shortage of rain. Yes, there is laughter and the telling of lies and maybe in darkness, we open our eyes.”