Perhaps proving that time and tastes may change, but dreams of a free car are forever, the musical "Hands on a Hardbody" will make the leap from the West Coast to Broadway for the 2012-13 season.
The La Jolla Playhouse production, which is based on S.R. Bindler and Kevin Morris’ 1997 documentary of the same name, opened on May 12. It features a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Doug Wright of "I Am My Own Wife." The musical is directed by Neil Pepe, who also directed "Speed-the-Plow" on Broadway in 2008, and in an additional bit of crossover appeal, features genre-hopping music by Phish guitarist Trey Anastacio and "Bring It On: The Musical's" Amanda Green.
The story of a strange real-life endurance contest staged by a Texas car dealership, "Hands on a Hardbody" follows 10 contestants through a war of attrition in pursuit of a new pickup truck based on their ability to satisfy the contest's rules (spelled out in the musical's title).
In his review, Times critic Charles McNulty described "Hands on a Hardbody" as "a Red State musical that Blue State audiences won't hate themselves for enjoying." McNulty went on to compare the production to the Broadway hit "Once," adding: "It's a relief to encounter a musical that isn't afraid to follow its own idiosyncratic vision."