A cave, treasure seeker and one of America’s earliest media circuses – this is the backdrop as Carolina Actors Studio Theatre (CAST) premieres its first foray into musical theatre this month.
“Floyd Collins” is based on the true story of a man by the same name. In search of treasure in 1925 Kentucky, Collins finds the most spectacular cave he has ever seen and is in awe until the cave collapses leaving him trapped 100 feet underground. Frantic efforts to rescue Collins lead newspaper reporters, then radio stations and movie makers to the small Kentucky town to cover Collins and his rescue.
“We like to think we do cutting edge work and thought “Floyd Collins” was on the cutting edge,” said CAST Managing Artistic Director Michael Simmons. “The music was difficult and it had a unique story.”
With the help of a Knight Foundation supported Cultural Innovation Grant from ASC, CAST, which has been around since 1992, has experienced expansive growth in the last year and a half including a move to a larger space in Charlotte’s North Davidson neighborhood. Simmons said the move has provided CAST with more theater space and allowed them to expand their repertoire to shows like “Floyd Collins.”
The grant, a $30,000 investment over two years, supports programmatic opportunities, and assists professional and volunteer leadership to gain the necessary expertise and abilities to strengthen the institution and improve the financial stability, strategic risk management and growth capacity.
“I think the Cultural Innovation Grant has really done more than help CAST. In many ways, it has saved and positioned CAST,” Simmons said. “We were in an untenable situation in our last venue – roof leaking, structure weakening – we had no hope of getting any repairs or up-fit from that building owner. Without that grant we would not be in this new space and without that move I’m not sure we’d be alive.”
CAST’s mission is to immerse its audience in a culturally diverse theatre experience and it comes through in everything the organization does. From the moment a patron walks through the door, he or she is engrossed in a unique environment tied to the main production.
For “Floyd Collins,” Simmons said the organization worked with the Schiele Museum in Gastonia to get an authentic cave feel.
“We try to change the look of our lobby, the tickets, our ushers and bartenders with every performance,” Simmons said. “It wouldn’t be unexpected if you were taken to your seat by a cave tour guide. You never know with CAST.”
“Floyd Collins” is at CAST from Thursday, April 12 to Saturday, May 12. Click here to buy tickets and find out more information.