Tony Nominees Amanda Green and Keith Carradine Talk Hardbody's Daring Nature and Upcoming Recording

By Michael Gioia
June 8, 2013

Although the new musical Hands on a Hardbody, about a group of hopeful Texans competing for a pickup truck and striving for the American Dream, had a short life on Broadway, the production picked up three Tony Award nominations, including nods for songwriter Amanda Green and featured actor Keith Carradine.



"It was an extremely daring show — full of heart," Carradine told Playbill.com following the news of his nomination.

Although the show pushed Broadway boundaries — placing a Nissan pickup truck center stage at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre with ten actors attached to its "hardbody," facing elimination from the competition if their hand was removed — it was unable to pick up "speed" when it came to ticket sales.

"It connected with the audience," continued Carradine. "Obviously, the biggest problem we were not able to surmount was getting an image out there, so that people would understand what it was they were coming to see. In retrospect, I think that was what we not able to overcome. But the audience that we got… They connected wonderfully with the show. The show said something. It had something to say, and people responded to it. I think it was an extraordinarily well put-together musical."

The message that the musical — featuring a score by Green and Phish frontman Trey Anastasio and a book by Doug Wright — provided was that dreams could come true with patience and persistence, or, as the song by Green and Anastasio goes, if you want something, "Keep Your Hands on It."

"I'm so proud of this show and my collaborators," said Green. "Trey, Doug and I and [director] Neil [Pepe] and Sergio [Trujillo, who provided musical staging] felt that we created the show that we wanted to create. And, we feel inordinately proud of it."

Where did the creative team begin? "Doug Wright and I went into Texas and met the people who we fell in love with when we were watching the documentary. Immediately, song ideas sprung to mind. Also, we felt licensed to make up characters and stories we wanted to tell. Some of the lyrics came straight from the mouths of the real people themselves; some we made up."

Keith Carradine
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN
Carradine was nominated for his performance as successful contestant JD Drew, who dreamed of taking home the show's title character for him and his wife (played by non-contestant Mary Gordon Murray). Although the production of Hardbody didn't live on, he is proud that the score by Green and Anastasio did.

"We finished recording the cast album last week," he said at the Tony Awards press junket May 1. "It sounds amazing. I can't wait to hear the finished product. Trey and Amanda have done an amazing job. Trey's work on the score and the arranging with Don [Hart, who provides orchestrations]… It's going to be a very, very special record. Every song in this show, I think, is a hit. I think it's one of the greatest scores ever."

"Of course, we're sad that it had a short life," admitted Green, "but I think that we all feel that it will have a big life beyond. We're so excited for the cast album to come out because we want more people to hear the songs. And, something that Trey and I set out to do was write good songs. We really wanted a collection of good songs that we liked to listen to. And, the people who we wrote about… We wanted to write songs that they wanted to hear."

The album, to be released by Ghostlight Records, is produced by Anastasio with Green serving as co-producer and Kurt Deutsch as executive producer.

Read the earlier Playbill.com feature with Tony nominee Keala Settle.

(Playbill.com staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)

Watch highlights from Hands on a Hardbody: