Adam Guettel, Floyd Collins, “How Glory Goes”
Floyd Collins is one of the legends of cave exploration in America. Eager for caves in Kentucky to be open to the public, he made his name with the discovery of Crystal Cave, part of the Flint Ridge Cave System in central Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park. Collins’s determination to find a cave that would be more conveniently located for commercial activity led him to Sand Cave. He was exploring it in January 1925 when he became trapped in a tight crawlspace, 200 feet below ground. Lacking food or water, the 37-year-old lived for two weeks before perishing.With a book by noted director Tina Landau, Collins’s story was adapted for Broadway by composer-lyricist Adam Guettel (grandson of Broadway master composer Richard Rodgers). Premiered at Philadelphia’s American Music Theater Festival in 1994, the show had a brief but acclaimed off-Broadway run two years later. Since then it has been produced by many regional theater companies nationwide.
The show depicts Collins’s valiant struggle to keep himself strong, mentally and physically, fighting a battle to stay alive that he ultimately loses. At the same time, the show reveals the media frenzy surrounding attempts to rescue Collins. His wondering how heaven will look and feel leads to “How Glory Goes,” the deeply affecting song that ends the show.