Therapeutic journey: Zionsville resident draws on past for one-woman play


For approximately the past 30 years, Elizabeth Young-Collins has lived her dream of becoming an entertainer.

The 68-year-old Zionsville resident not only sings and acts, but in recent years she has become a playwright.

Young-Collins created “The Betsy Show,” a one-woman play about her own life. It premiered at the Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis in August 2023, and then was presented during IndyFringe in August and September.

“The Betsy Show,” Young-Collins’ fifth play, will be presented at 2 p.m. March 12-13 and 19-20 at the District Theatre, 627 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis. The show runs around 90 minutes.

“I’ll have more control over the product, and it doesn’t have to be only an hour,” she said. “From the time I was born, I thought I should be doing something that was important and included traveling. I wanted to shine. I watched ‘The Sound of Music’ and Julie Andrews. I thought, that’s it, I want to sing and perform in front of people.”

Young-Collins was the sixth of the seven children, and she said it was sometimes hard to be heard.

“I got attention by making them laugh,” said Young-Collins, who grew up in Boston. “I’m going to sing. I’m going to make them laugh, and that’s how I’m going to get their attention. My parents were amazing people. My dad went to MIT and was very bright.”

Young-Collins said her parents were high-functioning alcoholics, but no one discussed it. Her father was a World War II bomber pilot and flight instructor.

“My mother came from a highly educated and high-income family from Minnesota,” she said. “In the ’The Betsy Show,’ I finally tell the truth about some of the trauma-drama that happened in childhood, where little Betsy did not fit in. She was too smart, too isolated, too much of an introvert. She’ll never get married if she doesn’t clean her room. These were some of the things I was told by my mother. It’s the story of a gifted child who survived the ‘50s and avoided the landmines of what I was supposed to be doing. I was supposed to get a man, make him happy. I was supposed to have children. Well, I saw what my mother did to accommodate my father and she didn’t seem very happy with the tasks of being a mother.”

Young-Collins said her family was featured in Life magazine for remarkable families before she was born.

“So, I was born in a perfect family, but I knew something was wrong,” she said. “It was a noisy crowd. I thought it was fun, but I buried a lot of things that happened. It’s not a ‘blame-the-parents’ story. It’s about the resilience of human beings and taking responsibility for your dream.”

Young-Collins sang in high school.

“I dreamed of becoming a professional singer,” she said. “But it was only a dream because I had no plan. I was too smart for my own good, according to my mother.”

Young-Collins majored in French and became a teacher but found she didn’t enjoy the occupation after two years.

“I moved to New York City and I took acting classes,” she said. “I got fired from three waitress jobs. I had some success, but I didn’t know what I was doing.”

Young-Collins said she occasionally abused alcohol when she was younger. She never became an alcoholic physically. Still, she stopped drinking and underwent therapy.

“I found out why I was attracted to handsome, intelligent but alcoholic men who were not emotionally available, and neither was I at the time,” she said. “I got help with Al-Anon.”

Going to therapy made her realize it was not her fault.

“Disease has taken over these incredible people,” she said. “I grew up thinking there was something terribly wrong with me because no one was talking about the elephant in the kitchen (of her parents’ alcoholism).”

Her play shows how Betsy transformed into Elizabeth in her 30s.

“It’s really telling the truth that if you follow your gut and really pray or get divine intervention, which happened to me (good things will happen),” said Young-Collins, who married Dan Collins when she was 47. “God put this idea in my head to follow my dream.”

In addition to singing, Young-Collins has given tours through WorldStrides, an educational travel experience, for 17 years. She now only does it in the spring.

“If you don’t make it fun, they won’t care about history,” said Young-Collins, who moved to Zionsville in 2016.

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Singing those old-fashioned love songs

Elizabeth Collins-Young will draw from her repertoire to sing some of her favorites for a Valentine’s eve concert of classic love songs at the Chapel at Hoosier Village in Zionsville. The concert is set for 7 p.m. Feb. 13. She will be accompanied by Charles Manning on piano.

“Charles is brilliant. I’m lucky to get him,” Collins-Young said.

Some of the songs she plans to perform are “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” “Bewitched, Bothered, And Bewildered,” “Our Love is Here to Stay” and “My Funny Valentine.”

During the Christmas holidays, she performs as Singing Ms. Santa. She also has performed tributes to Patsy Cline and Marilyn Monroe.

“I have a wide repertoire to sing standards from the 1920s to today,” she said.

Young-Collins performed “The Betsy Show” at Hoosier Village last year.

“Elizabeth is a buoyant personality whose performance reaches out and touches each individual in the room,” Hoosier Village Life Enrichment Manager Lori Robinson said. “Expect to come away affected.”