Hope is a thing with tires in the Texas inspired musical, ‘Hands on a Hardbody’, which will be presented by the Sam Houston State University College of Arts and Media next week.
Adapted from the terrific 1997 documentary by S.R. Binder, the musical weaves together the individual stories of characters whose collective goal is to win a brand-new pickup truck. The show, directed by Patrick Pearson, features a book by the Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Wright, with lyrics by Amanda Green, and music by Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green.
‘Hands on a Hardbody’ will be presented by Sam Houston State University’s Department of Theatre and Musical Theatre in the Erica Starr Theatre Oct. 7-9 with 7:30 p.m. showings each evening, as well as a 2 p.m. Saturday matinee.
With a bravado to match the gumption of its characters, a hard-pressed bunch of Texans hoping to beat the odds and win a truck in a grueling contest, ‘Hands on a Hardbody’ drives onto stage without the high-gloss adornments that most musicals boast. Instead, it concentrates on giving voice to a story of everyday people fighting to hold onto hope in the face of fierce economic headwinds and bad breaks, not to mention buckling knees.
The characters’ hearts may yearn to dance free, but they are forced by circumstances to stand still. The rules of the competition dictate that if they remove a hand from the truck, they’ll lose their chance at the big prize. Choreographer and faculty member Kyle Craig-Bogard took on the challenge of infusing the show with movement while the cast members “keep their hands on it.”
“I see it as a chance to develop more creative choreography in the limitation that I am given,” Craig-Bogard said. “It’s fun to watch the cast work on the choreography as they try not to slip up and take their hand off the truck.”
Burrowing into the troubled hearts of its characters, the production draws a clear-eyed portrait of an America that is a far cry from the fantasyland of most commercial musicals. The contest was an annual event run by a car dealership in Longview, where selected entrants vied to see who could remain upright with one hand planted on the prize for the longest time. Director, Patrick Pearson grew up in Longview and remembers the contest taking place there.
"These characters are just doing the best they can, under very trying circumstances. The musical showcases the power of hope, heart and tenacity," Pearson said.
Tickets are $12 if purchased in advance, or $15 at the door. SHSU faculty and staff can get one free ticket when booking online. SHSU students can obtain one free ticket the week of the show when booking online. Visit http://www.shsutickets.com/. For ticket information, please contact the Box Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 936-294-2339.
The School of Music also has performances lined up in the coming weeks, including the Festival of Strings: Celebrating the Symphony Orchestra on Oct. 8, the SHSU Chorale Fall Concert on Oct. 11 and the Jazz Ensembles Concert on Oct. 28. These events will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Payne Concert Hall in the Gaertner Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available on the Box Office website.