Monday, June 11, 2007

Floyd Collins

Stumptown Stages
Posted by Frenchglen June 8, 2007; closes June 30, 2007

Fears and desires just below the surface. Restrained set and lighting frame a convincing Appalachian holler and cave world. Music more texture and tone than hit. Splendid chorus line of reporters gone wild. What was missing at times was an emotional connection with Floyd. Who was this lost spelunker fellah?

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

I guess the thing I gathered most was an emotional connection.  The characters and the music were all sort of abstract (impressionistic?) and as a whole I think it created something really beautiful.  Kirk was impressive as were some of the fresh faced men on the stage. A few people I had never seen before, definitely some people to watch!

Lisamarie said...

Haunting and beautiful. Susannah Mars is spot-on, Erin Charles is fragile and beautiful, and hearing them sing together was an absolute treat. Kirk tore my heart out and kept it; I'm still haunted by his balance of desperation and hope. The reporter song was a highlight not just of the show, but of the entire season; a stunning moment. David Cole delivers with electric enthusiasm and energy. If you have no plans to see this show, change your plans. It's worth it!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Lisamarie! We saw it the same night and this is the best thing Stumptown has done. They've done good things before this, but this is show-stopping! I have to add that Todd Tschida is AMAZING! The duet with Kirk near the end of Act I gave me goose bumps. This is a wonderful and moving show! I hope people come out to support it! Kirk Mouser is in his element with this show and his supporting cast is incredible! See this show and support quality in Portland musical theatre!!!!!

TheatreGoer1986 said...

I don't think there was a point in this performance where I wasn't entertained. I don't think the casting could have been more dead-on! I really enjoyed Tyler Caffall's performance. I thought the singing was brilliant, whether it was Erin Charles (what a delight!), Todd Tschida's beautiful tenor. And thanks to Kirk, I actually began feeling claustrophobic, but in the best kind of way! I'd have to say the highlight of the show for me, was the ensemble's reporter song. Who knew Dave Cole had such great moves?

jaygarrette said...

It is a pleasure to add that one of the actors in this show, Isaac Lamb, was just awarded with a Drammy for Oustanding Achievement of an Actor in a Musical for his performance as Gaston in Beauty and the Beast. His performance in this show, though somewhat smaller than the illustrious Gaston, is nevertheless just as honest and reflective of the honors he recieved tonight. Well done Isaac.

-tjgc

Anonymous said...

BIG kudos to Jon Kretzu for casting yet another brilliant show. Everyone was PERFECT, even the ensemble!!! The reporter song was fun...very energetic, stole the show! No disappointments. Kirk, as always, fabulous. Overall great performance, loved the set and the lights, and the new faces really impressed me! Once again, great job Jon!

p.s. Great job to Stumptown for learning from past mistakes...NO SOUND ISSUES!!!

Jill W said...

I loved, loved, LOVED this show! The lighting and staging were beautiful, and the cast was terrific across the board. Great job to all involved...that was some crazy hard music. Kudos to the fiddle player, especially...can you imagine what that sounded like by itself in her living room? (-:

Anonymous said...

saw the show on sunday. The music/vocals were beautiful. I was impressed with the cast (stronger all around than other stumptown shows I have seen). I think this show really represents a lot of growth for Stumptown. Things that were problems in the past we non-issues. Todd, Kirk, Issac, Tyler, Erin... amazing!

Anonymous said...

I really thought this show was amazing. Erin Charles and Todd Tschida stole the show and I will always remember Todd and Kirks first duet. I did think however, that Kirks performance was a bit self indulgent. It wasn't bad, but that is how I felt. Susannah Mars was good, but felt small. Isaacs solos were haunting. Overall, it was one of the strongest shows I have seen in a long time, even if it felt at times the lead actor was just showing off.

Anonymous said...

I dont think that the reviews saying that Kirk was being indulgent are fair. He didnt write the music, and the fact that he has LONG songs by himself on stage is just part of the script I believe. I did get a little tired of listing to him yodle and sing about a cave but hey... what can you do? Keeping all that was a directoral choice I guess.

Ben Waterhouse said...

I don't think Mouser's performance was indulgent (whatever that means) at all, but I did think it was a little over the top. I don't think all the bravado left much room for any hints about Collins' character, and I left the theater without a sense of who the guy was.

That said, Mouser's vocals were, as always, top-notch (I liked the yodeling), the band was great, Isaac Lamb's solo gave me chills, Tyler Caffall's performance is the most emotionally effective I've seen at Stumptown, and I really dug (hah!) the hanging timbers in the auditorium.

Anonymous said...

Ben,
It's a shame that your review in the WW didn't have more of this kind of a tone. Here are some positive comments. Too bad that the readers have a more negative review to help them to decide whether they should support a local theatre company or not.

Anonymous said...

Here here!

Ben, I appreciate your reviews, but you were just a bit too negative for what is really happening on that stage. I understand your job is to critic the show, but I believe you went a bit too far...i.e. Todd is ANYTHING but foolish. I just wish that the WW readers know to look past a review and go judge for themselves.
This is a great show put on by Jon Kretzu and Stumptown, and these guys (and 2 girls) have worked really hard getting the show where it is now. I am coming again this weekend for the second time, and I am just as excited (if not more now) to see it again.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Mr. Waterhouse's tone in his review was too negative. He has every right to critique a show as he sees fit, but I think the more personal comments should be removed entirely. (i.e. "Tshida was perhaps miscast" and leaving it at that instead of calling an actor foolish.)

In regards to the production, I felt things fell together VERY nicely. I think Jon Kretzu made some very good directorial choices here with casting and staging. Specifically; the simplicity of a trough of sand and water, leaving the cave to the imagination, and the haunting sadness that comes from opening an umbrella slowly. Who'd have thought?? : )

The music is rather atypical and it takes some getting used to - but it fits perfectly with the chilling mood of the story.

Note to those who haven't seen it: Bring tissues for Mouser's last solo!!

Anonymous said...

Without going back and rereading the review, I'd just caution folks that Ben's personal response to the show and what he might choose to say in a review are not necessarily going to be the same thing. What he says to a knowledgeable, inside theater crowd on this blog may not be the same thing he would advise the general reader of any particular publication.

Anonymous said...

Plus, editors play a role. I know I've heard through the grapevine that, at WW especially, the editors are somewhat heavy handed in shaping reviews and articles (as they have every right to be), making it more critical, more 'punchy', more pointed, whatever. I have no idea if that played a role in this case, but thought it was worth pointing out.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, the last thing Todd Tschida was... was miscast. He was incredible, and heart wrenching.

Ben Waterhouse said...

And, as far as I could tell, singing well below his comfort zone. His high notes were stellar, but they were few and far between. It's not his fault, by any means, and I certainly didn't mean to insinuate that he's a foolish person.

Then again, maybe it was an off night.

Anonymous said...

I feel that the papers in this town specificaly WW and the Mecury are more interested in "causing a stir" than actually saying something intelligent and insightful. Apparent by the all too common personal attack many of you are commenting about. There is a sincerely odd willingness by the reviewers of theatre and practioners of the same in this town towards self loathing and "small town-ides"
Everyone here in Portland: you should be proud and very aware that this little city is "THE TALK OF ARTISTS AROUND THE COUNTRY" I, like many others, have moved here from bigger markets eg. NYC, LA, Miami, Chicago and many others precisely because the work here is so strong and only getting stronger. The cyniscm held by the old guard will soon fall away especially when we just start ignoring them. And the sooner we can get some of those old warhorses off the drammy committee the sooner we can actually applaud the real outstanding work being done here.

Anonymous said...

Respectfully, it's unfortunate that your note decrying personal attacks by reviewers ends with a personal attack on the Drammy committee.

Anonymous said...

Respectfully, it is precisley the "members" of this committee who are stunting the growth of this town artistically "warhorse" is not an attack merely and analogy like that which was used at the turn of the century when automobiles were replacing horses. It denotes someone holding onto old ways and fighting progress.

Anonymous said...

I doubt if this will make it past moderation, but it must be said. I agree with the poster above. It's quite unfortunate, but it's also quite a trend with these *new* Portland theatre artists, arrogant bastards sporting a grand sense of entitlement and inflated ego strapped to a shallow understanding of why theatre is still alive in the first place. That "pot calling the kettle black" right up there is a perfect snapshot of the young, smug (but naive) punk who thinks he can develop a swagger being big fish in a litle pond. He starts off begging for notice and recognition by claiming to be the next big upstart, an innovator who supposedly knows better, who just has not been given the chance. Then it's just so sad, isn't it, when he typically winds up just pissing and moaning and piddling out of town, whimpering just like he came in.

frenchglen said...

Let's try to keep it constructive.

Discussions of specific issues are more helpful than labeling.

Anonymous said...

I just think it's sad that the critics, namely those of WW and Mercury, are focusing on all the wrong aspects of the play. What happened to praising the incredible actors of this production? I couldn't find a incompetent one! I was also troubled by this, found in the Mercury: "Kirk Mouser...spends much of the play howling like a hillbilly gone feral."...He's 150 feet deep in a cave, is he supposed to be whispering? I just think it's sad that people cannot open their minds to Stumptown. I, myself, have seen this show on more than one occasion, and I would see it again!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and what happened to talking about Floyd Collins? If you want to discuss the Drammy committee, or your problems with the local theatre actors/actresses, find the right place to do so. But let's stick to the subject at hand, which is this production, in case you have forgotten.

Anonymous said...

"Howling like a feral dog? I suppose you are relating to the character of Floyd "yodeling" in the cave? The yodeling is a tool that cave explorers use to determine distance and direction. Kirk didn't "just elect to do such." These are elements written into the script. Is he suppose to rewrite the show. Don't think Mr Guettel and Mr.Landau would be too happy with him. Do you? Again, small town mentality and lack of researce by PDX reviewers.

Anonymous said...

Here lies Floyd Collins yodeling in a cave
He started a hero but ended a knave
His story was facinating
It even was truesical
And then they went and made it a musical

Anonymous said...

Y'know, the big-town critics weren't all fawning over the show when it came out: Ben Brantly wasn't keen.

you guys are too much said...

I'm a bit baffled by some of the responses to reviews here.

Anonymous 6/21/2007 09:32:00, I fail to see how a reviewer not liking the yodeling means that "people cannot open their minds to Stumptown." One must LIKE everything one is OPEN to? I'd better stop trying new things entirely, since I may not like all of them...

Anonymous 6/21/2007 12:21:00, bemoans our "small town mentality and lack of researce(SIC) by PDX reviewers" and explains the practical relevance of yodeling in a cave. I doubt very much that anyone thought the actor was yodeling/howling just because he felt like it; it's either in the script (as you say) or the director asked/allowed the actor to do it. But if it doesn't read to the audience (or even just this reviewer), then it doesn't read. "I thought the yodeling was too much" equals "small town mentality" how?

Both of these anonymous posts smack of people involved with either the company or the show trying to spin what they felt was a negative review. I find that tremendously unattractive. Have some class and either don't comment on your own press, or own up to it and use your name when you disagree with criticism.

David said...

Everyone is a critic, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. This forum is here to help us share those opinions. I see no reason to belittle each other because we don't agree with the other persons opinion.

Anonymous said...

Other than a friend to several of the actors, had nothing to do with Floyd Collins. "Small town mentality" related to the overt prejudice the reviewer showed..."feral hillbilly?" Most of us are hesitant to use our names when we see reviewers based so much of their reviews on personal like/dislikes.

jaygarrette said...

could we at least use psudonyms or something? I keep loosing track of the conversation.

Joey Klei said...

Hey all, I have to admit I am a fan of all the discussion that has occured regarding musical theatre. What I find the most intriguing is the passion that is behind comments for Musical Theatre, either good or bad - the comments seem to be rooted in improving upon an art form that is fighting for a place in our wonderful city.

Either folks like Floyd Collins, Ragtime, 42nd Street, West Side Story, They Came From Way There or not - the art form is being produced. How fortunate are we to live in a city that has opportunity to have such resources and forsight to produce such challenging and different types of the art form.

I have always believed - good or bad reviews - it gets people talking and gets people interested.

Keep chatting and let's see where we are in five years - I dare you ;)

West said...

This show has a lot going for it, but I want to ask a -- well, dramaturgical, I guess -- question of those who've seen it ...

Did y'all really sympathize with the character of Floyd? I think it was played wonderfully -- I have no fault with the performance -- I'm just don't have much sympathy for the character and therefore was totally less-than-invested in the story. Maybe I just have a hard heart. Sure, I felt sort of a tug at the predicament of a fellow human being, but is that enough to drive the show dramatically? And could this really be someone else's story? Skeets comes to mind -- another terrific performance, for whom I have more sympathy than Floyd, but whose thread seems undeveloped literarily.

From a dramaturgical point of view, I think the playwright got it wrong -- I think this should be Skeets' story, beginning to end, with better weaving in of all those little subplot threads (the asylum sister, the pushed-down brother, the proud father) -- single out Skeets' perspective from the outside in, and I think it gives the story shape and clarity -- plus greater dramatic tension in his own transformation ultimately denied when he is no longer allowed to participate in the failed recovery efforts.

OK, I'm babbling now. Regardless, definitely a provocative production with many fine moments.

Carrie Baldwin-Sayre said...

All I can say is, WOW! I have not had this kind of experience at the theater for quite some time. From the opening notes, the cast fully grabbed my heart and didn't let go. I would start naming performances (both actors AND band) that I particularly liked, but it was such an ensemble piece, that I would end up listing the entire cast. I was really stunned by the depth of emotion I felt throughout the entire thing. Thank you to everyone involved with this show for providing a truly unique and wonderful afternoon of theater. As for all that's being said on this blog, it's pretty exciting when a show can generate this much enthusiasm from its audience, whatever their opinion.

nartan said...

I have to double Carrie's WOW on this show. It was absolutely sublime from start to finish. Kirk Mouser is force of nature, with the power to pierce right to your heart and leave you a sobbing mess. And I loved the yodeling!
The whole cast is incredible, with beautiful voices every single one of them. I have a paricular bias towards the lovely Erin Charles and the incredibly talented David Cole, who danced his butt off in the reporter song!
If you haven't seen this show yet, make plans for it this weekend. It is an experience you don't want to miss. Don't forget your tissues!

Anonymous said...

Invited by a friend I attended the Sunday matinee and I was blown away. This is not your stereotypical American musical with a Hollywood happy ending. Americans don’t deal well with tragedy, or stories about tragedy. The Floyd Collins story, a true story, was one of the most reported events of the 20th century. How could we have forgotten this…collective amnesia? We seem to prefer the “lives happy ever after” tales that have given “Musicals” a bad name. The metaphor of a man in a cave, at his depths and taking everyone with him was beautifully rendered. And the music? Not just folk and bluegrass, but jazz, and atonal, haunting and full of surprises…again not for your average audience, but I was mesmerized. The ending is powerful. I applaud Stumptown for taking on a tragedy and not only for producing it with such reserve and skill, but for gathering so many gifted people together to display their incredible talents. I never realized we have such talent in Portland. And to think that Stumptown has done this after only two years in existence. If this is the future of musical theatre in Portland, give me more. The local papers need to find better critics.

Anonymous said...

I loved Floyd Collins, too. Very much. But I don't think that happily ever after endings give musicals a bad name. I think that a good musical with a happy ending is just that...a good musical. I think a bad musical with an happy is still a bad musical. If musicals are performed well, with all of the other elements falling into place, the product is good...regardless whether or not there is a fairy tale ending.

Sheila ~ said...

I put off writing anything about this show as I have been left with no words to express the emotional grasp it had on me. Kirks's performance had me grasping for air. Excellent performance by each and every cast member as well as the band. Strong applause to all -

Old Man Lee said...

Only two performances left!
I think the thing I will miss most is the emotional connection. This has been an amazing experience for all involved. Thanks to those who have attended.
If you haven't seen "Floyd" don't wait any longer. We've got to get out! The shaft's no damn good! Floyd is ready Lord!
I guess we're al ready. We have to be!