Hands On a Hardbody at La Jolla OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS




  • TM

  • S & C

Opening Night:
June 6, 2012
June 17, 2012

Theater: La Jolla Playhouse / 2910 La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla, CA, 92039


It’s been a tough year for the ten strangers competing for a new hardbody truck, but now their fate is in their hands. Over the next 144 hours they will laugh, cry and push their bodies and minds to the limits as they fight to keep at least one hand on a brand new truck. The contestant with the most nerve — and tenacity — will drive away with the American Dream.

  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Hands On a Hardbody at La Jolla

    Symbolism and Struggle in a Contest of Dreams

    Charles Isherwood

    June 5, 2012: In the new musical “Hands on a Hardbody,” dreams die a sudden death, with the buckling of knees, a hand gone numb or a descent into hallucination. This Broadway-bound show, making its premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse here, sings sincerely and with a rough-edged humor of the dusty margins of American life, where people live paycheck to paycheck if they are lucky enough to have a job, and chase a chancy illusion of sudden salvation if they are not.

  • LA TIMES REVIEW OF Hands On a Hardbody at La Jolla

    'Hands on a Hardbody' is a fun ride

    Charles McNulty

    May 15, 2012: "Hands on a Hardbody," the new musical based on S.R. Bindler's 1997 documentary film about a nutty endurance contest at a Texas auto dealership, pulls off something most pundits would have considered impossible today: This is a Red State musical that Blue State audiences won't hate themselves for enjoying. Yes, even a coastal denizen such as myself, who frets about the melting ice caps and all those polar bears floating forlornly out to sea, got worked up about which of the economically strapped characters was going to win the midnight blue pickup truck that would be a godsend even with gas prices soaring. (Although it's not overly explicit, the time period has been updated to the present day.)

  • VARIETY REVIEW OF Hands On a Hardbody at La Jolla

    Hands on a Hardbody

    Bob Verini

    May 15, 2012: Librettist Doug Wright ("Grey Gardens") deftly teases a narrative arc out of a prize-winning but little-seen 1997 documentary shot in Longview, Texas, a place where -- as we're repeatedly told in song and monologue -- a truck isn't just useful for work or convenient for the family but a symbol of possession and assertion of identity. Wright makes shrewd use of 2012's harder times to spur on the competitors to hoped-for glory, and if the pic's implicit metaphors tend to get literalized (whatever you want to accomplish in life, "keep your hands on it"), at least he keeps things tart instead of drenching it all in glib moral uplift. Wright is also very much in sync with the songwriters, an inspired blend of theater and rock in Amanda Green and Phish phrontman Trey Anastasio. While a few numbers spin the show's wheels -- songs about the immigrant experience or postwar stress disorder don't have enough to do with the contest -- the team at its best serves up a funky array of down-home, bluegrassy expressions of want and need.

  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF Hands On a Hardbody at La Jolla

    Hands on a Hardbody

    Rob Stevens

    May 14, 2012: The current musical landscape is littered with shows -- good and bad -- derived from well-known films. Hands on a Hardbody, the winning new musical making a world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse, takes a slightly different tack. It uses the 1997 documentary of the same name, about a Longview, Texas car dealership's endurance contest in which the winner would drive off the lot with a fully-loaded truck, as its source material.

  • STAGE AND CINEMA REVIEW OF Hands On a Hardbody at La Jolla

    A Test Of Hearts, Minds And 'Hands On A Hardbody'

    Neda Ulaby

    May 15, 2012: Host Ira Glass summed up his “Something-For-Nothing” program thusly: “This is the thing about something-for-nothing schemes. Once you get the details, once you get involved, it’s not something for nothing. You pay. One way or another, you pay. And we all know that. But even though we all know that, we just want to believe.” Even though Hands on a Hardbody rarely takes off, it’s on the right track, a phenomenon rarely seen in new musicals written by pop-song writers. I want to believe that this unlikely collaborative trio can tap into the universal themes that the musical currently skirts, and tweak their material in such a way that it effects our heart, mind and spirit.



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