It's official: "Hands on a Hardbody" will plant its feet on Broadway.
La Jolla Playhouse, which commissioned and developed the musical and staged its world premiere last spring, is announcing this morning that the show will begin previews at New York's Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Feb. 23, with an official opening March 21.
The location is significant, because the Atkinson happens to be where another Playhouse-originated Broadway show now resides: "Peter and the Starcatcher." That Tony-winning play closes Jan. 20 after a solid nine-month run, clearing the way for "Hardbody."
The timing is also significant, because it means "Hardbody" will open in time to be eligible for 2013 Tony Award consideration.
"Hands on a Hardbody" is based on the 1997 documentary film about a oddball endurance competition at a Texas car dealership that required entrants to keep at least one palm planted on a new truck for as long as possible, with brief rest and meal breaks. The last one standing won the truck. The contest captured in S.R. Bindler's film lasted 72 hours.
Doug Wright, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright behind "I Am My Own Wife" (yet another Playhouse-originated work), conceived the idea, landed a commission from Playhouse artistic chief Christopher Ashley and developed the piece initially with the Broadway-seasoned songwriter and lyricist Amanda Green ("Bring it On: The Musical").
Trey Anastasio, the leader of the massively popular jam band Phish, then came aboard; Green and Anastasio co-wrote the score, with Green penning the lyrics and Wright the book.
The Playhouse says the entire cast from the Playhouse production will return for the Broadway staging: Keith Carradine, Allison Case, Hunter Foster, Jacob Ming Trent, Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone, Mary Gordon Murray, Jim Newman, Connie Ray, Jon Rua, Keala Settle, Dale Soules, Scott Wakefield and William Youmans. Some play characters with direct real-life counterparts from the film while others portray composites.
Neil Pepe will again direct, and set designer Christine Jones, costumer Susan Hilferty and others also will return. But the renowned choreographer Sergio Trujillo is now credited with the musical staging (Benjamin Millepied is no longer with the production), and Carmel Dean will handle vocal arrangements and musical direction.
"Hardbody," which received generally strong reviews here, just began a two-week developmental lab in Manhattan to work on potential changes to the show ahead of the Broadway premiere.
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