Floyd Collins

Tina Landau, Adam Guettel

Full Length Musical, Drama  /  2f, 11m

Book by Tina Landau / Music and Lyrics by Adam Guettel / Additional Lyrics by Tina Landau

In 1925, while chasing a dream of fame and fortune by turning a Kentucky cave into a tourist attraction, Floyd Collins himself became the attraction when he got trapped 200 feet underground.
Floyd Collins
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  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    2f, 11m
  • Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Period, Docudrama/Historic
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    • Appropriate for all audiences
    • Adult
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)
In 1925, while chasing a dream of fame and fortune by turning a Kentucky cave into a tourist attraction, Floyd Collins himself became the attraction when he got trapped 200 feet underground. Alone but for sporadic contact with the outside world, Floyd fought for his sanity and ultimately his life as the rescue effort above exploded into the first genuine media circus. Reporters and gawkers from across the country descended on the property, fueling the hysteria and manipulating the nation into holding its collective breath. This haunting musical - one of the most acclaimed in recent years - tells the transcendent tale of a true American dreamer.
Writers Notes
Written By: Adam Guettel

American Music Theatre Festival commissioned me to write a piece in 1991 and by 1992 Tina [Landau, co-author of Floyd] and I had teamed up on this idea, which was an idea that we found in a book. It was just one paragraph; it was sort of one of those broad survey compendium books about life in America, and the heading of this little paragraph was "Deathwatch Carnival." The paragraph underneath said "a man trapped in a cave and media circus ensues" or something like that. And that's really all we had to go on. Then we found some other research sources, some primary, some secondary, and found the whole thing sort of fascinating, we couldn't stop.
Dana Williams, who was at that time working at Playwrights Horizons, came down to Philly and saw the show, and she is largely responsible, in a way, for Floyd's success in the world. If she hadn't seen it and recommended it to Playwrights, they wouldn't have done it, and it wouldn't have been recorded, and the recording is really the calling card to the show.


Performing Groups
  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Church / Religious Groups

Licence details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.



  • Time Period: 1920s
  • Duration: More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes


Floyd Collins takes place from January 30 - February 16, 1925 on Bee Doyle's farm in Barren County, Kentucky, in and around a small opening in the ground which will later become known as 'Sand Cave.'


2f, 11m
Cast Attributes
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
2 Women
4 Men

7 Men

Consists of characters at the Carnival - Hawkers, Con Man, Jugglers, Sparkplug Eddie Bray, et al.

Floyd Collins - a caver
Bee Doyle - owner of the farm in which Floyd becomes trapped
Ed Bishop - a local caver
Jewell Estes - a local teenage boy
Lee Collins - Floyd's father
Miss Jane - Floyd's stepmother
Nellie Collins - Floyd's younger sister
Homer Collins - Floyd's younger brother
Skeets Miller - a reporter for the Louisville Courier-Journal
H.T. Carmichael - an engineer
3 Reporters
Cliff Roney - a young filmmaker
Dr. Hazlett - a doctor from Chicago
Frederick Jordan - a local farmer
Casting Notes

Floyd Collins can be performed with a cast of 11 men and 2 women. Doyle, Bishop and Estes can play characters in the Carnival, and the 3 Reporters can play Locals in the first scene aboveground, various roles in the Carnival, as well as the roles of Cliff Roney, Dr. Hazlett, Frederick Jordan and the National Guardsmen.


  • Musical Style: Classic Broadway, Country/Western, Contemporary Broadway
  • Dance Requirements: Moderate
  • Vocal Demands: Difficult
  • Orchestra Size: Medium
  • Chorus Size: Medium
1. "The Ballad Of Floyd Collins" - Jewell, Nellie, Homer, Miss Jane and Miller
2. "The Call" - Floyd
3. "It Moves" - Floyd
4. "Time To Go" - Floyd
5. "Where A Man Belongs" - Lee, Doyle, Miss Jane, Bishop, Jewell and the Locals
6. "Lucky" - Nellie and Miss Jane
7. "Daybreak" - Homer and Floyd
8. "The Ballad Of Floyd Collins (Reprise)" - Jewell
9. "I Landed On Him" - Miller
9.5. "An' She'd Have Blue Eyes" - Floyd
10. "Heart An' Hand" - Miss Jane and Lee
11. "The Riddle Song" - Homer and Floyd
12. "Is That Remarkable?" - The Company
13. "The Carnival" - The Company
14. "Through The Mountain" - Nellie
15. "Git Comfortable" - Homer
16. "The Ballad Of Floyd Collins (Reprise)" - Jewell
17. "The Dream" - The Company
18. "How Glory Goes" - Floyd

Full Orchestration

Viola (Doubling Violin)
Keyboard (Piano, Synthesizer)
Harmonica (Chromatic, C# Crossharp)
Trap Set
Concert Toms
Suspended Cymbal
Mark Tree
Orchestra Bells
High Toms
Concert Bass Drum
Wood Blocks (3)
Small Shaker
Rain Stick
Pod Wind Chimes
Cow Bell
Pop Gun
Splash Cymbal
Eerie Drum
Lead Pipes (2)

NOTE: On stage guitar part for No. 22: The Ballad of Floyd Collins (Act II Reprise) is located in the back of the Libretto-Vocal Book.


Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package:
1 Piano Conductor
15 Libretto Vocal
1 Violin
1 Viola
1 Cello
1 Bass
1 Percussion
1 Keyboard
1 Harmonica
1 Guitar
1 Logo Pack

Piano Only:

1 Piano Conductor
15 Libretto Vocal
1 Logo Pack

Additional Resources And Services Available



"Floyd Collins is a work of exhilirating imagination and humanity...Daring, intelligent and almost unbearably poignant."
— Cleveland Plain Dealer
"One of the three or four truly great music theatre scores of the last decade."
New York Newsday

"A daring and original piece of musical theater...One-of-a-kind, FLOYD COLLINS suggests promising futures for both its creators."
San Diego Union Tribune

"Plaintive, often inspired...Adam Guettel is a composer for the new century."
Los Angeles Times

"Easy to admire...sometimes ravishing...a clearly gifted [writing] team."

"Compelling...haunting melodies and down-to-earth lyrics."
New York Magazine

Music Samples


  • Floyd Collins at La Mirada Theatre

More videos +



Tina Landau

Tina Landau is a writer and director whose original work includes the play SPACE, which premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago (Time Magazine 1997 Ten Best) and which was subsequently produced at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and the NYSF/Public Theater in New York; the music-theatre piece DREAM ...

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Adam Guettel

Adam Guettel is a composer/lyricist living in New York City. His most recent musical, The Light in the Piazza (cast album on Nonesuch Records), with a book by Craig Lucas, premiered on Broadway at Lincoln Center Theater's Beaumont Theater in April 2005, following a world premiere at the Intiman Theater in S ...

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