Floyd Collins in Concert.

Floyd Collins in Concert.
Music and Lyrics by Adam Guettel. Book and lyrics by Tina Landau. Produced by Anne-Maree McDonald and Stuart Maunder

According to Stephen Sondheim great musical theatre is the seamless combination of lyrics, music and drama.

Floyd Collins has this (pardon the pun) in spades.

The musical about a miner trapped underground in Kentucky, and the circus which developed around efforts to dig him out in 1925, is married gorgeously into its bluegrass style.

Adding to the enjoyment of listening to this chamber musical, superbly played and sung, was the aptness of the venue ... the Sydney Recital Hall.

It looks like a big cave and the echo a big cave creates was exquisitely reproduced.

But the drama on stage was more than matched by the events which led to this one off performance on a Monday night.

Playing Floyd Collins was Peter Cousens.

The joy as he descended into the big cave as his character descended into oblivion was palpable.

You could almost see the demons being released from him.

Floyd Collins was originally planned to be part of the second season of Peter Cousens' Kookaburra National Music Theatre Company.

It was canceled due to poor ticket sales, and ultimately the company was as doomed as the poor miner pinned to a rock 100 feet under ground.

The industry crowd wanted Peter Cousens to triumph and he did.

But the artistic success of the night could not distract from the fact that Floyd Collins is not a commercial proposition.

It is a piece to be enjoyed by aficionados.

A concert presentation of this musical was the appropriate forum for it.

If only Peter had been less ambitious and allowed Kookaburra to stage this scale of production in its formative years then no doubt it would still be flying and we could have enjoyed listening to tasty treats for many years to come.

But after being financially and emotionally broken by the failure of Kookaburra - I hope that the well deserved thunderous ovation the audience gave Peter will go a little way to healing some of the wounds.

David Spicer

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