Why for the love of Sam would anybody assemble a musical about people competing to win a pick- up truck? Danged if some of us this far north can figure that one out. But down in Texas they have that going on in Hands on a Hardbody. You can bet that the folks striving for that vehicle ain’t among the super-rich and that they’re ready to hang in there, holding on to hope while they hold fingers on the chassis. Eventually only one of them is left standing in the broiling sun to win that four-wheeled dream.
Something like that really happened at a Nissan dealership in the small Texas city of Longview in the 1990s. A movie documented such an event. And Dallas-born playwright Doug Wright saw a potential to explore the personalities and dreams of the kind of people willing to endure the struggle against each other. Wright, FYI, is best known for his Pulitzer Prize winner I Am My Own Wife, likewise based on a real story. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doug_Wright)
Fort Worth guitarist, composer, and vocalist Trey Anastasio, way up front and center with the rock band Phish, wrote the C & W-like songs along with singer/actress Amanda Green who’s got quite a fine handful of stage credits of her own as writer and performer. Background: she’s the daughter of lyricist and Leonard Bernstein-collaborator Adolph Green. (http://trey.com/) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanda_Green).
Quite a trio. Don’t you think?
The “scrappy, sincere new musical brings a fresh, handmade feeling to Broadway” exulted the New York Times in 2013.
There’s a winner in there somewhere.
Hands on a Hardbody runs February 13-March 22 at Howard Drew Theatre, Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. Thurs.–Sat.: 7:30 p.m., Sun.: 2 p.m. Tickets $20-$40. www.OmahaPlayhouse.org