Floyd Collins finally lands, Sydney

After two years of silence, a concert production of Adam Guettel’s groundbreaking sleeper is set to enchant Sydney theatregoers.

On Monday May 3, two and a half years after its cancelled Kookaburra season, embattled musical sleeper Floyd Collins will finally receive an Australian staging, in concert form at City Recital Hall, Angel Place.

It’s a show many Australian theatre fans have heard of, due in no small part to the cancellation of its 2007 season at Sydney Theatre. But few of those fans have experienced its unique score, much less seen the show performed live, a situation that producer and music director Anne-Maree McDonald is thrilled to change.

“Musically, it’s a work of genius. I just think it’s an incredible work, very dramatic and driven by text, character, score and situation,” she said.

Those unfamiliar with Adam Guettel’s complex score can expect a mixture of Blue-grass country, jazz, and neo-classical, contemporary dramatic sounds.

“A classical string quartet against banjos, harmonicas and guitars, and somehow that whole thing just manages to come together. It draws on so many different elements,” McDonald said.

Floyd Collins is the story of a happy go lucky but adventurous gold digging caver from Kentucky who finds himself firmly trapped underground following a landfall. The show’s above-ground narrative follows the ensuing media circus, while the parallel plot below-ground follows Collins’ descent into suffocation and madness, until his eventual redemption in spirit and soul.

Despite the dark subject matter, McDonald is confident the show will resonate with its audience.

“We’re all seeking that freedom and that faith that everything’s going to be alright. (Floyd) finds that in the most dire circumstances, and it results in the most extraordinary ending.”

Both McDonald and Peter Cousens, who assumes the title role, are quick to acknowledge the show’s uniqueness makes it a hard sell.Floyd Collins has been a huge labour of love for all concerned, most of whom have been rehearsing independently, often while working on other productions, including Michael Falzon, who has returned from London for the show.

Cousens believes that while the audience may be small, those who take a chance on Floyd Collins will find a new sound, a new musical voice and a piece of storytelling that has many great things to say about faith and hope, “probably a bit more intense than the usual musical fare we tend to get.”

“Floyd Collins is probably not going to make box office gold, but is such an intelligent work that I think it deserves a place, somewhere. It’s a big risk to us, but I think that we’re so old now, we don’t care,” McDonald explains with a laugh.

“It’s only money. We want (Floyd Collins) to be seen and heard.”

Floyd Collins in Concert also stars Trisha Crowe, Queenie van de Zandt, Nick Simpson-Deeks, Phillip Hinton, James Millar, Peter Meredith, Elliott Weston, Philip Dodd, and Andrew Conaghan.

Bookings: www.cityrecitalhall.com.

Erin James

Erin James is AussieTheatre.com's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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