The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings


SEARCH CurtainUp



NEWS (Etcetera)



Los Angeles






Free Updates
NYC Weather
A CurtainUp BerkshiresBerkshire Review
Floyd Collins
Cranwell Resort

You ready for the goods?
Cause she's ready to pop!
This is going over the top!
---from the catchy "Isn't It Remarkable" in which a trio of reporters' excitedly calling in the details of Floyd Collins' ever more precarious situation in the Kentucky cave in which a falling rock has kept him immobile for an ordeal that has caused a media frenzy.

The Porches Inn
Floyd Collins scene
Reporters (Jonathan Kay, Neal Mortimer, Sal Delmonte) as they "scoop the poop"
(Photo: Kevin Sprague)
In 1925, after a poor young Kentuckian was trapped and perished in a cave he explored in hopes of turning it into a profitable tourist attraction, a minister named Andrew Jenkins and a Mrs. Irene Spain wrote "The Death of Floyd Collins" which sold thousands of copies. Over thirty years later, director Billy Wilder, made a movie called The Big Carnival about the media frenzy stirred up by the 17- day ordeal preceding Floyd Collins' unhappy end, with Kirk Douglas as a scoop happy reporter. Ten years ago, the Floyd Collins legend jump-started the career Adam Guettel, a newcomer to a circle of eclectic musical theater composers and lyricists whose opera flavored work is a far cry from the more traditional shows by music makers like Guettel's grandfather Richard Rodgers.

Like the Reverend Jenkins and Mrs. Spain, Guettel wrote a rousing ballad to set the stage for the intriguing slice of musical history currently being given a vividly staged production at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge. Tina Landau's book (she also wrote some of the lyrics) transforms the fact-based story into a multi-layered tapestry of individual relationships and a subtly shaded picture of a people whose dreams seldom come true. While there aren't any songs you're likely to be humming in the shower the day after you see Floyd Collins, its rich and intriguing mix of ballad, bluegrass, folk, Broadway song and dance and opera will nevertheless make a lasting impression.

Jared Coseglia, who last season helmed another outstanding musical, The Who, Tommy (Our Review) at this venue, once again steers the young performers who make up the Unicorn casts, to meet the show's acting and singing challenges. In keeping with the intimacy of the theater, all sing without the miking that dulls the pleasure of big Broadway shows. The exception is Dalane Mason who plays Floyd Collins. This is understandable given the demands of the role which require him to sing majestically whether crouched in his uncomfortable corner of the cave, while bouncing about as he explores the cave singing hopefully about the dream that prompts his cave exploration or joyfully recalling good times with his devoted brother Homer.

Cory Grant who plays Homer is one of several standouts in a generally outstanding ensemble. Also deserving a special hand is Colby Chambers as the Louisville Courier-Journal reporter who because of his small size was able to actually descend far enough into the cave's narrow passage to talk to Collins -- a reporting stint which brought the real life Skeets Miller and his paper a Pulitzer Prize, but, at least in the musical's reprise of "The Ballad of Floyd Collins," ruefully sings "Forgive me. . .for turning you into a story. Like a real live newspaperman.". Also excellent are the ensemble' s only two women, Rachael Bell as Floyd's beloved sister Nellie (a relationship with hints of incest) and Beth Hallaren as Miss Jane, the kind-hearted stepmother of Nellie, Homer and Floyd.

Adding an at once lighter and satirical touch are Jonathan Kay, Neal Mortimer and Sal Delmonte three reporters who embody the journalistic ringmasters of the circus of news and memorabilia hawkers (the latter including Floyd's father) who hover around the rescue mission. "Isn't That Remarkable", which has this threesome singing and dancing as they phone in their scoops, is the most typically show biz production number. Another jaunty song is Floyd and Homer's truly memorable "Riddle Song." Even traditional musical lovers who might find Floyd Collins a bit too operatic for their tastes and wish for a few more such interludes, are bound to respond to Floyd's final and moving acceptance of his fate in "Glory."

No review of this production would be complete without praise for Julian Barnett for creating choreography that beautifully suits the music and the theater and Mimi Lien for managing to take us inside as well as outside the cave, with room for the musicians to perch unseen at the top of the multi-level set. Marija Djordjevic '20s costumes and Mathew E. Adelson's atmospheric lighting round out this small scale, big impact evening.

Now a new season has followed last summer's double dose of innovative musical revivals (The Who, Tommy and Assassins), is it too much to hope that such musicals will become an annual tradition? If critics would be allowed a vote, I'd cast mine for next year's season to include Michael John LaChiusa's wonderful but rarely produced Hello Again for summer 2005.

Music and Lyrics by Adam Guettel
Book and Additional Lyrics by Tina Landau
Director: Jared Coseglia
Musical Director: Linda Dowdell
Choreographer: Julian Barnett
Cast: Jeremy Anglia (H.T. Carmichael), Rachael Bell (Nellie Collins), Colby Chambers (Skeets Miller), Peter L. Coffey (Bee Doyle) Sal Delmonte (Cliff Roney/Reporter), Thay Floyd (Ed Bishop), Cory Grant (Homer Collins), Beth Hallaran (Miss Jane), Jonathan Kay (Dr. Hazlett/Reporter), Dalane Mason (Floyd Collins), Joe Jung (Lee Collins), Neal Mortimer (Reporter/crowd member), Russ Salmon (Jewell Estes),
Scenic Design: Mimi Lien
Costume Design: Marija Djordjevic
Lighting Design: Matthew E. Adelson
Musicians: Linda Dowell, musical director/keyboard;Jenny Hersch, Bass; David Brown, guitar/banjo; Bing Lieu, violin; Josh Tussin/percussion
Running Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes, including intermission
Berkshire Theatre Festival's Unicorn Theatre, Route 7, Stockbridge, 413-298-5576
June 9, 2004 to July 3, 2004
Monday through Saturday at 8 PM. Matinees on June 19, June 26, July 1 and July 3 at 2 PM.
All tickets are general admission --$27
Review by Elyse Sommerbased on August 8th performance
Musical Numbers
Act One
  • The Ballad of Floyd Collins (Prologue)/Jewel, Nellie, Miss Jane, Homer, Lee, Doyle,Miller, Bishop
  • The Call/Floyd
  • It Moves/Floyd
  • Where a Man Belongs/Lee, Miss Jane,Nellie, Jewel, Bishop, Doyle
  • Lucky/Nellie, Miss Jane
  • Time to Go/Floyd
  • Daybreak/Homer/Floyd
  • I Landed on Him/Miller
  • An' She'd Have Blue Eyes/Floyd
  • Heart An' Hand/Miss Jane, Lee
  • The Riddle Song/ Homer/Floyd
Act Two
  • Is That Remarkable?/ 3 Reporters & Company
  • The Carnival/Floyd & Company
  • Through the Mountain/Nellie
  • Git Comfortable/Homer
  • The Ballad of Floyd Collins (Reprise)/ Jewel, Doyle,Bishop, Homer
  • The Dream/Floyd & Company
  • How Glory Goes/Floyd
deb and harry's wonderful things -  crafts .  yarns

Historic Red Lion Inn

Berkshire Hikes Book Cover

Great Places to Eat, Shop, Stay
Sheffield Pottery
In Lee:
Pamela Loring Gifts
Morgan House Inn & Restaurant
In Lenox:
Andrew De Vries Sculptures

In Williamstown
Pappa Charlie's Deli
Thai Garden
Listing information:

m metaphors dictionary cover
6,500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.

Berkshire Main Page. . .  Berkshire Theater Index and Schedules. . .  Berkshire News Page. . .  Berkshire Review Archive. . .  A-Z Index All CurtainUp Reviews

©Copyright 2004, Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from