STAGEright undertook a monumental challenge with Tina Landau and Adam Guettel’s Floyd Collins. Floyd is a spelunking dreamer who burrows his way to the ultimate cave and plans to construct the site as a tourist location to take care of his family for good. Only problem is the mountain has other plans, when a crumbling cave wall traps his leg on the way out. Before long Floyd’s story sweeps the nation and a carnival of spectators and newsmen flood the scene with a fervent hunger.
On stage we see a mountainside built of scaffolds and platforms, and quickly find the structure morphing to the inside caverns as character after character crawls down the daunting path to try and save Floyd below. Navigating under hangs, around drops, and weaving up angled levels, there was a wild path across the set that each cast member brought more to life. Set designer Brandon Estrella didn’t disappoint when the caverns expanded even further into the second act. It was a complex and very effective design – much like the production on whole – and served a valuable purpose in the story.
A twangy serenade brings us into this musical, but before long the songs extrapolate into ornamented vocal lines bouncing atop music that nearly made my mind melt. Some of the meters and chord changes employed in the score were the stuff of Charles Mingus and Krzysztof Penderecki. A wonderful use of call and response inside the caves had Floyd singing with his own echo and creating a sea of musical waves – something I imagine could spark the entire concept of a show like this. A pit of three outstanding musicians piloted incredibly sweet melodies matched against tumbling crescendos. It is the kind of sonic exploration that both hypnotizes and fascinates.
The challenge of this show is none more apparent than in the roles to be performed. Altogether I was amazed at the actors that were cast in this show. Some of the area’s top talent bucked up to the task and delivered incredible performances. Sometimes singing on their sides while crumpled up inside the caves, they sang out parts with incredible tact. The voice on Chelsea LeValley blew me away; whereas her melodies wind and spill throughout the show, there was never a tone under sung or a change not exacted. Wowee.. Josh Ryder also killed it as a rotating chorus member; his performances of the movie producer and newspaper man had me cracking up in their unabashed ridiculousness. Well done sir.
This production by STAGEright deserves equal recognition to the accolades of the script. Like the mountain that drew Floyd so deeply, this play could very easily collapse under the extreme weight and pressure of its complexity, but the company brought together a killer team that accomplished this great feat. Each production member proved they could bring an extremely difficult piece like this to Seattle. Very well done everyone.