Hands on a Hardbody (musical)

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Hands on a Hardbody
Hands on a Hardbody Musical.jpg
Music Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green
Lyrics Amanda Green
Book Doug Wright
Basis Hands on a Hard Body: The Documentary
Productions 2012 La Jolla Playhouse
2013 Broadway
2014 St. Louis
2014 Albany, NY

Hands on a Hardbody is a musical based on the documentary film Hands on a Hardbody. The book is by Doug Wright, music by Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green, lyrics by Amanda Green. The documentary was adapted into a musical commissioned by La Jolla Playhouse, La Jolla, California.[1]

Production history[edit]

Hands on a Hardbody had a private reading in April 2011 in New York City.[1] The musical had its world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse, California, running from April 2012 through June 2012.[2] Broadway previews began February 23, 2013 at the Brooks Atkinson Theater, with the official opening on March 21, 2013. Directed by Neil Pepe, the cast featured Allison Case, Keith Carradine, Hunter Foster, Keala Settle and Mary Gordon Murray. Musical staging is by Sergio Trujillo, scenic design by Christine Jones, costumes by Susan Hilferty and lighting by Kevin Adams.[3] The entire original La Jolla cast performed on Broadway. Sergio Trujillo replaced Benjamin Millepied, who had choreographed the reading and La Jolla production.[1][4] The musical closed on April 13, 2013, playing 28 previews and 28 performances.[5]

The first regional production was mounted by New Line Theatre in St. Louis, MO in May and June 2014. Directed by Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy, the cast featured Todd Schaefer (JD Drew), Jeffrey M. Wright (Benny Perkins), Rey Arceno (Jesus Peña), Mike Dowdy (Mike Ferris), Cindy Duggan (Janis Curtis), Zachary Allen Farmer (Frank Nugent), Ryan Foizey (Greg Wilhote), Alison Helmer (Virginia Drew), Marshall Jennings (Ronald McCowan), Taylor Pietz (Heather Stovall), Anna Skidis (Norma Valverde), Margeau Baue Steinau (Cindy Barnes), Luke Steingruby (Chris Alvaro), Keith Thompson (Don Curtis), and Marcy Wiegert (Kelli Mangrum), with scenic design by Rob Lippert, lighting design by Kenneth Zinkl, costume design by Sarah Porter and Marcy Wiegert, and sound design by Kerrie Mondy.[6]

Theatre Under the Stars in Houston produced the show in June 2014, but artistic director Bruce Lumpkin substantially rewrote the show, without permission, reassigning songs and lyrics, rearranging the order of the songs (and therefore, the order of when contestants dropped out of the contest), adding new incidental music, and cutting sections of songs entirely. Shortly after opening, licensing agent Samuel French sent TUTS a cease-and-desist letter, and the production was closed prematurely.[7]

The northeast regional premiere of Hands on a Hardbody took place in July 2014 at Park Playhouse in Albany, New York.[8]


Ten contestants vie for a "hardbody" truck in Longview, Texas. The last contestant who has his or her hands on the truck wins it. The truck is a Nissan "hardbody" pickup (on stage).[5] The lives of each contestant, along with the car dealer and a radio announcer are revealed during the "hardbody" contest.

Musical numbers[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The New York Times reviewer wrote that the musical "sings sincerely and with a rough-edged humor of the dusty margins of American life.... features a wry, economical book by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Doug Wright..., along with a soulful score by Amanda Green and Trey Anastasio".[10]

The Time reviewer called the musical "engaging", writing:

Trey Anastasio... and lyricist Amanda Green have contributed a flavorful country-Western score that is tuneful, well integrated and evocative of the setting. And choreographer Sergio Trujillo had found inventive ways to keep the stage active, despite the obvious restrictions.[11]

Awards and nominations[edit]

On April 30, the musical received three Tony Award nominations for the 67th Tony Awards.[12] The musical received nine 58th Drama Desk Award nominations including Outstanding Musical but won none.[13] The production received three Outer Critics Circle Award nominations, including Outstanding New Broadway Musical, but did not win any awards.[14]

Keala Settle received a Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway or Off-Broadway Debut Performance.[15] The musical received one nomination for the 31st Annual Fred & Adele Astaire Awards but did not win.[16]

Original Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2013 Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding New Broadway Musical Nominated
Outstanding New Score (Broadway or Off-Broadway) Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Keala Settle Nominated
Fred & Adele Astaire Awards Outstanding Choreographer of a Broadway Show Sergio Trujillo Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Keith Carradine Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Keala Settle Nominated
Outstanding Choreography Sergio Trujillo Nominated
Outstanding Music Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green Nominated
Outstanding Lyrics Amanda Green Nominated
Outstanding Book of a Musical Doug Wright Nominated
Outstanding Orchestrations Trey Anastasio and Don Hart Nominated
Outstanding Sound Design Steve Canyon Kennedy Nominated
Tony Award
Best Original Score Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green Nominated
Best Featured Actor in a Musical Keith Carradine Nominated
Best Featured Actress in a Musical Keala Settle Nominated
Theatre World Award Keala Settle Won


  1. ^ a b c Hetrick, Adam and Jones, Kenneth. "New Musical 'Hands On A Hardbody' Will Roll Into La Jolla Playhouse in 2012" playbill.com, October 14, 2011
  2. ^ " 'Hands On A Hardbody' Listing at LaJolla" lajollaplayhouse.org, accessed July 8, 2012
  3. ^ Jones, Kenneth. " 'Hands On a Hardbody' Will Truck Into Broadways Brooks Atkinson Cast and Design Team Confirmed" playbill.com, October 2, 2012
  4. ^ Moore, Sarah. "Sergio Trujillo Replaces Benjamin Millepied on Broadway Creative Team of 'Hands on a Hardbody'" theatermania.com, September 21, 2012
  5. ^ a b Gioia, Michael and Jones, Kenneth. " 'Hands on a Hardbody' Will Close April 13" playbill.com, April 8, 2013
  6. ^ "Hands on a Hardbody" New Line Theatre website, 2014
  7. ^ Sherman, Howard. "Rebuilding 'Hardbody' At A Houston Chop Shop" hesherman.com, June 20, 2014
  8. ^ "Park Playhouse -- July Production". Park Playhouse. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Viagas, Robert, ed. (2013). The Playbill Broadway Yearbook: June 2012 to May 2013. US: Applause Theatre and Cinema Books. p. 161. ISBN 1-48034-159-2. 
  10. ^ Isherwood, Charles. "Symbolism and Struggle in a Contest of Dreams. Hands on a Hardbody at La Jolla Playhouse" The New York Times, June 5, 2012
  11. ^ Zoglin, Richard. Hands on a Hardbody: Broadway’s New Pickup" Time, March 27, 2013
  12. ^ Purcell, Carey (2013-06-09). "Kinky Boots, Vanya and Sonia, Pippin and Virginia Woolf? Are Big Winners at 67th Annual Tony Awards". Playbill. Retrieved 2103-06-10. 
  13. ^ Hetrick, Adam and Gans, Andrew. "Billy Porter, Andrea Martin, 'Pippin', 'Matilda', 'Vanya and Sonia' Win Drama Desk Awards" playbill.com, May 19, 2013
  14. ^ Gans, Andrew (May 13, 2013). "Pippin Is Big Winner of 2012-13 Outer Critics Circle Awards". Playbill. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  15. ^ Gans, Andrew. "69th Annual Theatre World Awards Presented June 3" playbill.com, June 3, 2013
  16. ^ Gioia, Michael and Hetrick, Adam. "'Pippin' and 'Motown' Receive 2013 Astaire Awards" playbill.com, June 4, 2013

External links[edit]