PHOTO CALL: Hunter Foster, Jarrod Emick, Allison Case and More Rehearse La Jolla's Hands On a Hardbody

By Joseph Marzullo
11 Apr 2012

The world premiere of Hands on a Hardbody, the new musical about a Texas-set endurance competition, will star Tony Award winner Jarrod Emick and Tony nominees Keith Carradine, Hunter Foster and Mary Gordon Murray at La Jolla Playhouse April 27-June 17.

The musical has a book by Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Wright (I Am My Own Wife, Creditors), lyrics by Amanda Green (High Fidelity, Bring It On) and music by Trey Anastasio (lead singer of the band Phish) and Amanda Green.

Neil Pepe directs the reality-inspired musical about an auto dealership that launches an endurance contest in which "ten economically-strapped strangers embark on a journey that puts their hearts, minds and bodies to the test," according to La Jolla Playhouse. "The contestant who keeps at least one hand on a brand-new hardbody truck the longest gets to drive it off the lot. What initially seems like a mere publicity stunt soon becomes a soul-baring battle of wills. Only one can win, but for all involved, the truck holds the key to their own private American dream."

Here is a look a recent rehearsals:

View the Entire Photo Gallery
Keith Carradine, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Allison Case, Jarrod Emick and Hunter Foster
Photo by Terri Rippee





The musical is based on the documentary film of the same name.

The cast was announced on March 12. The company features Tony Award nominee Carradine ("Nashville," Broadway's The Will Rogers Follies) as JD Drew; Allison Case (Hair revival on Broadway) as Kelli Mangrum; Tony winner Emick (Broadway's Ring of Fire) as Mike Ferris; Tony nominee Foster (Little Shop of Horrors, LJP's Little Miss Sunshine; Broadway's Urinetown) as Benny Perkins; Jay Armstrong Johnson (Broadway's Catch Me If You Can) as Greg Wilhote; David Larsen (Broadway's Good Vibrations) as Chris Alvaro; Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone (Legally Blonde national tour) as Heather Stovall; Tony nominee Murray (Broadway's Little Me) as Virginia Drew; Connie Ray (author/performer Smoke on the Mountain, Broadway's Next Fall) as Cindy Barnes; Jon Rua (Broadway's In the Heights) as Jesus Peňa; Keala Settle (Broadway's Priscilla Queen of the Desert) as Norma Valverde; Dale Soules (Grey Gardens) as Janis Curtis; Jacob Ming Trent (Lincoln Center Theater's On the Levee) as Ronald McGowan; Scott Wakefield (Broadway's It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues) as Frank Nugent; and William Youmans (Playhouse's Dracula, Twelfth Night) as Don Curtis/Dr. Stokes.

Neil Pepe is artistic director of Atlantic Theater Company. He directed Broadway's Speed-the-Plow.

Musical staging is by Benjamin Millepied ("Black Swan").

Opening night in LJP's Mandell Weiss Theatre in La Jolla, CA, is May 12.

The creative team includes music director Zachary Dietz (In the Heights); Tony Award-winning scenic designer Christine Jones (Spring Awakening); Tony-winning costume designer Susan Hilferty (Wicked); Tony-winning lighting designer Kevin Adams (American Idiot); sound designer Steve Canyon Kennedy (Jersey Boys); and Playhouse Resident Dramaturg Shirley Fishman.

The Playhouse commissioned Hands on a Hardbody and further developed it through a series of readings and workshops, "as part of the institution's mission to serve as a safe harbor for artists and a launching pad for new work."

For tickets and information, visit LaJollaPlayhouse.org.