When Peter Cousens stood and bowed at the City Recital Hall this evening at the conclusion of Floyd Collins, there was a sense of achievement in his eyes. Or was it relief? Sadness? Joy?
It is hard to know exactly what was going through Cousens’ head. After all, this was the show that he first intended to produce through his company Kookaburra three years ago, only to have to cancel it due to poor ticket sales.
That 2007 production is part of the mixed legacy of Kookaburra, which left behind wonderful productions like Little Women but also a number of cancelled productions and controversies that marred its short existence in the theatre landscape.
Looking fresher, brighter and younger than he did during that final Kookaburra year, Cousens was dynamite on stage during the concert version of Floyd Collins, which featured much of the original planned Kookaburra cast.
I realised two things during tonight’s concert version.
The first was that this production was never going to reach the expectations Kookaburra originally had of presenting a lengthy season at the Sydney Theatre. It’s simply not commercial enough, and whilst enjoyable it is better suited to a smaller, more intimate venue.
The second was that Floyd Collins is a beautiful, daunting show that deserved to be seen. We can only be grateful to the producers and everyone involved in presenting the one-off concert version that we finally got to see this very special show.
There was some fabulous performances – Trisha Crowe was stunning, Andrew Conaghan’s contributions were superb and Nick Simpson-Deeks played the shy, up-and-coming reporter Skeets Miller to perfection.
Whilst not a masterpiece, Floyd Collins is a wonderful show, and it is an incredible rarity that we get to see a musical or play that had its season cancelled be revived in any form. We should feel very lucky, and those who missed it, missed out on a special night at the theatre.
Peter Cousens would have loved to have performed the role more than once. But I am certain that the one performance on Monday night will mean plenty to a man who has given so much to this industry, and is hopefully now getting plenty back.