Friday, June 01, 2007

Interview - Kirk Mouser - Floyd Collins Preview

A conversation with Kirk Mouser, Artistic Director at Stumptown Stages, about the upcoming production of Floyd Collins, which opens June 8 at IFCC.

Click on comments link to read the interview.


Anonymous said...

Posted by Frenchglen.


Hi Kirk. Tell us a little about the show. Who was Floyd Collins?

Floyd Collins was considered the greatest cave explorer ever known. He grew up in central Kentucky in the 1920’s, where one of the only means of making a buck was to discover caves that could be turned into tourist attractions with curio shops and refreshment stands. In 1925, Floyd became a victim to his quest for the “American Dream” when he got trapped in the great Sand Cave. The hoopla to follow became known as the country’s first media blitz.

What about this story interested you?

I have always been drawn to stories which define the human spirit. Floyd Collins embodies that free spirit and the great desire to make a better life for himself and his family.

What kind of music is in the show?

The music is written by Adam Guettel, Tony Award Winner (Light in the Piazza). His music is a blend of Bluegrass and Appalachian with beautiful and haunting melodies.

What is the history behind the development of this musical?

The musical was produced off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizon in the 90’s and has since developed a cult following among its adoring fans and musical theatre buffs.

You know that quote about history repeating itself – first as tragedy, the second time as farce. Musicals seems like a perfect form to reconsider and savor the peculiarities and weirdness of American stories like this, even if the events were not as funny to actual participants at the time. We play these tales back and enjoy them. What about this story is fundamentally American, and are there any parallels to contemporary life?

Chasing the American Dream - what is more American than that! This story speaks to family relationships, friends and the quest for something more. This quest is sometimes motivated by need, greed or simply the desire for acceptance and approval of those around us.

Is Stumptown currently developing any new musicals?

Stumptown is working with composer in residence Mark LaPierre on his new musical about relationships, “Heart Failure”.

If you found a million dollars hidden in a cave and could create a new musical on anything at all, what would you pick?

I would use it to lobby changes in our funding for the arts in the State of Oregon! How about a musical call “Art Isn’t Easy”!

You spent a long time in New York before returning to Portland a few years ago. How would you contrast the experience of producing and performing in musicals in the two cities? What do you like about being on stage in Portland ?

I think the biggest challenge living in Portland is balancing work, family and art. It is difficult for artists to make a living in Portland without having to supplement their income with something else. The talent pool in Portland is wonderful and we are happy that Stumptown can offer local artists an additional platform to create and share their gifts.

Are there any good regional festivals of musical theatre in the Northwest that Portlanders should be aware of?

Not that I am aware of. Stumptown has been discussing creating a JAW West type of festival for musicals. Stay tuned!!

What’s in store at Stumptown for the 2007 – 2008 season?

Our third season will include: “Godspell”, “Dreamgirls”, and “The Last Five Years”. Check it out at

Anonymous said...

The music from Floyd Collins is absolutely mesmerizing. I can't wait to see it.

Anonymous said...

I went to see Floyd Collins last night and it was beyond excellent! I think it will be one of the brighest moments in Portland theatre. Kirk Mouser's performance was wonderful, as were those of the rest of the cast. I didn't see a single weak moment. Loved the set.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Excellent ensemble work, very effective choices, and Kirk Mouser is heart-wrenching. Great job.

Anonymous said...

Really interestinggggg. Floyd bought out the tears. The music was kind of haunting. Would highly recommend it to Portland audience.

Anonymous said...

I saw Floyd Collins Saturday night (6/9). The next morning while my husband was telling me about a steep metal staircase down a rock ravine the he had descended, I had a fleeting feeling that I had been in a cave recently. It took a minute to realize that it was from attending the play the night before. The set, especially the ropes and wood as you enter the theater, give an eerily realistic feeling of descent. Our family has toured Mammoth Cave and others in KY and TN, and cast brought the people of the area to life for me.

Anonymous said...

We just got back from seeing this tonight and I agree with most of the previous posts that the performers were top notch and much of the music beautiful and haunting. It should be noted, however, that there are also passages that are quite dissonant and overlong. This was clearly a decision by the composers to echo a character's mindset and raise the tension--it's quite effective following a lovely melodic duet or when a song goes from brilliant harmony to jarring disharmony. I highly recommend this show, but it won't be for everyone. It isn't "Oklahoma"...and that's not a bad thing.

jaygarrette said...

(In response to the post above--6/22/2007 10:57:00 PM--I would like to extend a 'well done' for an honest, observant, and competent response to the show. I agree: it's not for everyone, but would still give it a harty recommendation.