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."
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