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Arts and Entertainment

Adapted From a Documentary Film, the Musical "Hands on a Hardbody" Opens at SCT Center Stage

(Poster design courtesy Springfield Contemporary Theatre)

Springfield Contemporary Theatre presents the area premiere of the musical Hands on a Hardbody, directed by Rick Dines, Feb. 12-28 at SCT Center Stage, corner of Pershing Street and Robberson Avenue in the west end of the Wilhoit Plaza building.

Pulitzer-winning playwright Doug Wright adapted a 1997 documentary film of the same name by S.R. Bindler that dealt with an annual Longview, Texas competition that pits 24 people against each other, to see who can keep one hand on a brand-new pickup truck the longest.  The winner gets the truck.  SCT director Rick Dines says it's a "cult documentary for a good reason:  not a lot of people have seen it!  But the people who have seen it, love it. The people they captured, that experience, is fascinating--absolutely fascinating."  Doug Wright had already adapted another film documentary, Gray Gardens, as a stage play.

Wright's stage version of Hands on a Hardbody depicts 10 hard-luck Texans looking for a new lease on life--and a brand-new vehicle. Armed with nothing but hope, humor and ambition, they endure days on end in the scorching Texas sun in order for the one winner to drive away with the American Dream. The show features  music and lyrics by Amanda Green (daughter of the legendary Adolph Green of Comden-and-Green fame) and Trey Anastasio of the jam band Phish.

One of Springfield's most familiar performers, Todd Smith, is one of the show's large cast, and admits that he was unfamiliar with Phish or their music.  But after "hearing this guy's music (for this show)--with (admittedly) prejudiced eares--his talent is amazing.  He is able to capture this Texas flavor, everything from roadhouse blues to country music.  There's a little bit of everything in this show, and some absolutely gorgeous vocal arrangements also.

While mostly played for laughs, Hands on a Hardbody is a story made most impactful by our recent economic tumult that has brought age-old fissures of race, class and income inequality to the fore. Opening Friday February 12, performances will be Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:00pm through Feb. 28 at SCT Center Stage.  For tickets call 831-8001 or visit