‘Floyd Collins’ traps audience with heavy drama

College students and residents of Coral Gables braved the storm Wednesday night to watch University of Miami students yodel, squeeze into tight spaces and define the American Dream at the opening night of the Ring Theatre’s production of “Floyd Collins.”

The musical made its original debut at the American Music Theatre festival in Philadelphia in 1994. Written by Tina Landau and with music composed by Adam Guettel, it quickly flourished and became one of the most notable plays performed in America and London.

“Floyd Collins” explores 15 days in the life of an optimistic young man with dreams of finding the perfect cave, but his world is rocked when he finds himself trapped in one. Directed by J.V. Mercanti and NDavid Williams, the musical is staged in Cave City, Ky. during the winter of 1925.

Warning: If you are sensitive to profanity, bad grammar, or if you dislike trying to solve riddles, this is not the play for you.

At the beginning of the first scene, actors dressed in country attire beautifully sang the “Ballad of Floyd Collins.” Afterward, the audience was introduced to the adventurous main character, Floyd Collins, who liked to constantly swear that he “ain’t a crazy caving fool” as he slid and wiggled across the stage, or rather, the cave’s floor.

Using the echoes of his voice, Collins (Adam Maggio) goes on a hunt to find his dream sand cave to turn into a tourists’ attraction. In the dark, he wriggles his way through the tight entrance of the cave and confirms that this is what he has been searching for all of his life. However, when it’s time for him to get out of the cave, a rock falls on his legs, trapping him inside.

The first to find him is his brother, Homer Collins, played by Luke Hamilton, who is full of energy and determined to set his brother free. His desperate attempts to claw through limestone are believable and his decision to sleep overnight in the cave with his brother is touching to behold. As the days go by, Homer and the rest of the Collins family are forced to face the reality that rescue may not be possible.

Perhaps the best part of the play is the reporter, Skeets Miller, played by Josh Jacobson. He is the only character small enough to fit into the hole that Collins is trapped in. Jacobson’s performance as a geeky journalist had the audience giggling at every line.

Another star performer was Alanna Saunders, whose performance as Nellie Collins left audience members hopeful. She was the only one who remained focused on helping her brother escape when the reporters and tourists visited their town.

The live orchestra helped bring each scene to life, and when combined with the impressive performances delivered by the cast, kept audience members at the edge of their seats.

“Floyd Collins” is an ideal show for music lovers and fans of dramatic comedies. The dark and heart-wrenching plot line forces audience members to come to grips with the dark side of fame and leaves them with the realization that sometimes fame distracts from more important things.


“Floyd Collins”

Feb. 12 to Feb. 22, 2014

For tickets, visit the Ring Theatre box office or website.

Student tickets: $10

For more information visit, as.miami.edu/ringtheatre/.