PHOTO CALL: Hands on a Hardbody Musical, With Keith Carradine, Hunter Foster and Allison Case
By Matthew Blank
The world premiere of Hands on a Hardbody, the new musical about a Texas-set endurance competition, starring Jim Newman and Tony nominees Keith Carradine, Hunter Foster and Mary Gordon Murray, began performances April 27 at La Jolla Playhouse.
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 (Speed-the-Plow, A Behanding in Spokane) 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."
The musical is based on the documentary film of the same name.
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; Newman (Steel Pier) 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.
Musical staging is by Benjamin Millepied ("Black Swan"). Opening night in LJP's Mandell Weiss Theatre in La Jolla, CA, is May 12. Performances play to June 17.
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.
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