KINGS ISLAND: Off the Rails
There’s a lot to see here – and all of it good!
I made a mistake at 1 PM today. I sat just a little too close to the stage in the International Showplace to fully appreciate the new show, OFF THE RAILS, which opened recently at Kings Island. See, I have long legs, so there’s this one particular row of seats that has no bench in front of it – and for musical revues like “Playlist Live!” and “Remember When: The 70s” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” it’s perfect. Even for the elaborate and intense “Hot Blooded” it was a good seat.
But not for this one. No, for this one, you gotta sit in the back of the theater. That’s because there is so much going on that you want to be able to see the whole picture!
OFF THE RAILS is an exciting production that features two amazing singers (usually the beyond terrific Haylee Dobkins and the talented Tanner Gleeson, but sometimes it’s their swings Anna Dudley and Montana Iverson) celebrating the park’s history of daredevil moments like Evil Kneivel’s historic bus jump and Nik Wallakanda’s terrifying tightrope walk from the front gates to the top of the Eiffel Tower. And it feels like a celebration, with the inclusion of a drumline, dancers, and stunt performers from All Wheel Sports (who were featured on “America’s Got Talent” in 2012) on scooters, bikes, rollerblades, and trampolines. But instead of just being an epic spectacle (which would have been OK!), there’s also a heartfelt story about a boy facing his fears and overcoming them with bravery and heart.
I’ll be honest; I got a little choked up. I’m a sucker for this sort of thing.
This particular show addresses two specific issues that I had with a similar one at Cedar Point in previous years – the stunts sometimes felt repetitious and there was no story. OFF THE RAILS brings so much energy, visual AND audio stimulation, and a bonafide plot. It’s marvelous.
I hope that you’ll be sure to catch a performance (daily – except Wednesdays – at 1, 2, 3, and 4:30 pm) when you visit the park for its 50th Anniversary Celebration. This is definitely THE year to go as they have pulled out all the stops in entertainment, food, and even landscaping. But trust me, sit towards the back. It’s better!
By the way, I know some people roll their eyes about me “reviewing” theme park shows in the same space that I write about “legitimate” theatre. But let me tell you what I saw tonight before I left the park. I stuck around long enough to see the Street Party celebration (nightly at 6 pm). There was a special needs child in a wheelchair. A dancer walked over, invited their parent to wheel them up to a drum on the side of the float, and handed them the drumsticks.
I’ve never seen pure unadulterated joy like that from anyone. Ever. The child’s enthusiastic smile, the bounce in their wheelchair . . . it was palpable excitement. Words can’t really describe it.
In my view, any show or experience that can produce that reaction is beyond worthwhile of a review in whatever space it needs to be written.