FLOYD COLLINS Coming to Charlotte, 4/12-5/12

The Carolina Actors Studio Theatre (CAST) in Charlotte, North Carolina will present the regional premiere of FLOYD COLLINS April 12-May 12, 2012. The musical by playwright Tina Landau and composer Adam Guettel is based on the true story of the heroic, but ultimately unsuccessful, struggle to free explorer Floyd Collins from a Kentucky cave in 1925. The tragedy was covered by newspapers throughout the United States for two weeks, and drew thousands of spectators to the remote rescue site, making it one of the most sensational news events of the early 20th century and inspiring one of the most unusual stage productions ever written. 

“People wonder how you can produce a musical about a man who dies in a cave, that audiences will feel good about,” said Michael Simmons, artistic director of CAST. “This show has moving, heartwarming songs, and one of the most glorious endings ever written. It is the most brilliant show that I have ever had the privilege to direct.”

It is also among the most difficult, particularly for actor Jonathan Elliott Coarsey, who has the title role. As Floyd, trapped in a tight passageway underground, he is forced to remain in one position on stage through most of the show.

“When finding a character, I often begin with how they stand, how they walk,” Coarsey said. “For this, so much of the work has been internal. I try to find what Floyd is feeling as his life slowly escapes him. My heart hurts for Floyd and I struggle to find, understand, and deal with what he went through.”

Musically, FLOYD COLLINS is regarded as one of the most challenging shows ever written, with styles that range from Americana to bluegrass, jazz and classical, press notes state. Music and lyrics are by Adam Guettel, with additional lyrics by Tina Landau. Guettel, grandson of famed Broadway composer Richard Rodgers, is best known for his work on the Tony Award-winning musical THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA. 

“I first worked on FLOYD COLLINS in Portland, Maine in 2010, and immediately fell in love with the music,” said John Coffey, musical director for the Charlotte production. “It is not often that a lead character in a musical dies, but when such a death brings about hope, it makes for a fascinating story. This show will leave audiences feeling uplifted.” 

The musical was inspired, in part, by the book TRAPPED! THE STORY OF FLOYD COLLINS, by historian Robert K. Murray and Roger W. Brucker, a world-renowned cave explorer who has written extensively about caves and has consulted for National Geographic Television. Brucker personally knew William “Skeets” Miller, a newspaper reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Floyd Collins tragedy, and is depicted in the musical. Brucker is also among the few people to explore the dangerous Sand Cave, in which Floyd was trapped, since the 1925 tragedy occurred. While in Charlotte, Brucker will make several appearances to promote the show, including talks at two high schools, a book signing at Performance Bicycle, 4436 South Boulevard from 6:00-8:00 p.m. on April 11, an opening night reception and book signing at Carolina Actors Studio Theatre on April 12, and Q&A’s following performances on April 13 and 14. 

“I am thrilled that a growing number of people are becoming interested in Floyd Collins and learning how what happened to him influenced how the news media cover disasters, even today,” Brucker said. “This is a brilliant musical. Tina Landau and Adam Guettel did a superb job of capturing the essence of the historical Floyd Collins and the people who struggled to save him.” 

FLOYD COLLINS is directed by Michael R. Simmons, with musical direction by John Coffey and choreography by KAra Martin. The cast includes Jonathan Elliott Coarsey, Chaz Pofahl, Daniel O’Sullivan, Dervin Gilbert, Holly Cenzer, Jack Marble, Joey Mayberry, Justin Moore, Lou Dalessandro, Nancy Cottingham, Pam Freedy, Paula Baldwin, Tom Kelleher, Heather Sheets and Parker Foley.

FLOYD COLLINS will run April 12-May 12 at the Carolina Actors Studio Theatre, 2424 North Davidson Street, Charlotte, North Carolina 28205. Tickets are $18 - $34. For more information, visit www.nccast.com or call the box office at 704-455-8542.

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