The tragic tale of a young man with a soul for searching takes center stage at Heartland Theatre starting Thursday, April 5.
The musical "Floyd Collins" is based on a true incident from 1925, when a young caver became trapped in Sand Cave, part of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. The rescue operation resulted in a media circus above ground, while Floyd Collins remained trapped below. Despite the efforts of rescuers, Collins died and passed into legend. His life and death have inspired a musical by Tina Landau and Adam Goettel, the grandson of Broadway great Richard Rogers. Sandra Zielinski is the director of the unique slice of Americana.
"It's a simple story that's about storytelling. And telling about this man who was underground and what he went through during this time and all of the chaos above the ground with people coming from miles and miles away. Even Lindbergh, flying his plane, shot a photo of the area, because there were hundreds of cars coming in. So you have that, versus the one man who is underground. You have hawkers, you have people there because it's the thing to do. And literally they dance on his grave."
You can hear many different styles in the score, according to vocal director Joe Penrod.
"What Goettel has done is incorporated a lot of folk, Appalachian, bluegrass styles and performance practices into the score. What I told the singers when we first started working was, if you listen to early bluegrass music—Ralph Stanley, Bill Monroe, some of those people—and you hear certain ways that they sing, then look at what Goettel has written, he's actually noted that in the score itself. So I told them that if they just sing what he's written, they're going to capture that Appalachian sound."
Actor John Kaczorowski plays Floyd Collins and finds much to admire about the man.
"He has this sense of wonder of of awe. He knows who he is and he wants to remain true to that, no matter what. There are a lot of people who doubt him, including members of his own family. He just feels at home underground, he feels at peace, he feels right where he supposed to be."
"Floyd Collins" runs at Heartland Theatre on April 5-22.
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