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Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Floyd Collins: Ambitious Outdoor Musical

By • Aug 11th, 2006 • Category: Reviews

Listen to our review of the Hard Bargain Players production of Floyd Collins [MP3 5:16 1.5MB].

Laura: We saw the Hard Bargain Players‘ production of Floyd Collins in Accokeek, Maryland.

Mike: Floyd Collins is a musical, the story of a cave explorer, Floyd Collins, who in 1925 has a dream of finding an enormous cavern that he could charge admission to and become rich and famous. Unfortunately while he was exploring this cave, he didn’t tell anybody where he was. He was by himself and his foot got stuck under a 26 pound rock. It took a few days to find that he was missing. They discovered the cave he was in. He was the first media circus in the United States. It used the new medium of radio to send out updates on what was happening. The show describes what’s happening above ground and below ground as the rescue effort gets closer to Floyd.

Laura: We went to one of the final dress rehearsals so they do still have a little bit of sound issues to work out. Overall I really enjoyed the show. I thought it was well done. Everybody performed well together, stayed in character the whole time. They had good emotions and good expressions towards each other. They weren’t just waiting for their lines, they were reacting to what was being said.

Mike: This was a pretty good show. Because it was a musical it was a very ambitious goal because the Hard Bargain Players perform at an outdoor amphitheater. They were competing at times with planes overhead and cars on the road. And of course all the cave critters that are in the trees around the theatre. So it was very ambitious. You also had the issue that you don’t have to worry about echos and different sound effects from the singers, but it was still pretty ambitious to do a musical outdoors.

Laura: The role of Floyd Collins, the caver who ended up 150 feet below ground was played by Jeff Paden. He did a really good job. He had a nice voice. He had a lot of expression. He was wedged in this little cavern area and we were told that during the intermission he planned to stay right where he was. I thought that was really a nice touch.

Mike: One of the first reporters on the scene was Skeets Miller. He was a newspaper reporter by accident. He got assigned to see if someone really was stuck in a cave. He showed up. He was played by Mike Mortensen. He did a pretty good job. He was very believable how he was acting with his frustrations of not being able to get Floyd out. Also with his excitement over the fact that the story has been sent out to over 1200 papers across the country. It was a good fun time watching him doing his scenes, especially with Floyd stuck in the cave.

Laura: In the performance there was a wide range of vocal talent from very well performed to doing ok with it. Overall I think everyone blended fairly well together.

Mike: Some of the singing was really good and some of it was ok. It was a wide range of quality in the singing.

We were looking forward to seeing how they were going to do a cavern and a person stuck in a cavern on the Hard Bargain stage, which is a small raised platform. What they built was an entire cavern out of two by fours and four by fours and different pieces of wood to actually go up above the stage. Then they had an area where he could actually climb down and get stuck. They had some special effects that were pretty good. They had different collapses happen at different times. They had a rock/piece of wood that trapped Floyd into his tunnel. That was pretty believable how he did that. I do wish they could have made the wood look like rock. Using paper mache or some other kind of special effects, even painting it gray would have helped.

Laura: Floyd Collins opens tonight in Accokeek, Maryland. It’s playing Fridays and Saturdays for the next three weekends. I do recommend you go see this show, but would caution you to bring bug spray as the critters are out once the sun goes down.

Mike: After you’ve seen the show you can found out a lot more about Floyd Collins. We found some websites that talk about the adventure or the story of Floyd Collins. You probably don’t want to read the descriptions at these websites until after you’ve seen the show. If you know what’s going to happen you’re not going to enjoy the show as much. It was a surprise at the end with everything that ends up happening. One website you can visit is FloydCollins.tripod.com. Another site that was interesting had some pictures of other productions as well as the recording of the original Floyd Collins ballad at bluegrassgrotto.org/floyd-c.html.

Laura: We’d also like to invite you to join our free mailing list to receive information about upcoming events in the Northern Virginia, DC, Maryland area. Just go to ShowBizRadio.net/Subscribe/.

Mike: And now, on with the show.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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