On October 2, producers confirmed the cast, creative team, and location of the musical “Hands on a Hardbody.” This musical, based on the 1997 documentary of the same name, begins previews at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on February 23, 2013. The show officially opens on March 21. Currently, “Peter and the Starcatcher” is playing at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre and ends its Broadway run on January 20.
This past April, “Hands on a Hardbody” had its world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, CA. The La Jolla Playhouse has a history of producing musicals and plays that have gone on to have successful runs on Broadway. Some of these shows include “Memphis,” “Jersey Boys,” and “Peter and the Starcatcher.”
These world premieres are products of La Jolla’s Page to Stage program. This program facilitates workshops and readings of plays that are still in their development stages. Audiences have the opportunity to participate in this process by providing feedback.
According to the official website, “Hands on a Hardbody” is marketed as: “For ten hard-luck Texans, a new lease on life is so close they can touch it. Under a scorching sun for days on end, armed with nothing but hope, humor and ambition, they’ll fight to keep at least one hand on a brand new truck in order to win it.”
The musical, which is set in Longview, TX, is adapted from the 1997 documentary by filmmakers S.R. Bindler and Kevin Morris. Inspired by true events, the show follows contestants competing in a physical and mental endurance test to win a new Nissan pickup truck.
“Hands on a Hardbody” explores the meaning of the “American Dream.” The production keeps a critical eye on America’s current economic turmoil and delves into the hardships and struggles of both the lower and middle classes.
The cast of “Hands on a Hardbody” includes Keith Carradine (J.D.), Hunter Foster (Benny Perkins), Mary Gordon Murray (Virginia), Jim Newman (Mike), Connie Ray (Cindy), John Rua (Jesus Peña), and Kathleen Elizabeth (Heather.) The ensemble also features Allison Case, Jay Armstrong Johnson, David Larsen, Jacob Ming-Trent, Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone, Keala Settle, Dale Soules, Scott Wakefield, and William Youmans.
Doug Wright, who penned the book to “Hands on a Hardbody,” is a recipient of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 2004 Tony Award for Best Play for “I Am My Own Wife.” Neil Pepe (direction), Amanda Green (lyrics & music), Phish frontman Trey Anastasio (music), and Sergio Trujillo (musical staging) round out the creative team. “Hands on a Hardbody” also features Tony Award-winning designers.
Charles Isherwood of The New York Times was particularly impressed with the music of “Hands on a Hardbody.” He described the music as, “Pulsating bass lines, honky-tonk piano and acoustic guitar spiced by a distinct Texas twang or a little mariachi salsa are wed to foot-tapping or somberly haunting melodies.”