Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-06-26
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

THEATER REVIEW Hands on a Hardbody
by Lauren Emily Whalen
2019-03-20

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Playwright: Doug Wright ( book ), Amanda Green ( lyrics ), Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green ( music )

At: Refuge Theatre Project at the Preston Bradley Center, 941 W. Lawrence Ave.

Tickets: $30; RefugeTheatre.com .

Runs through: April 27

Midway through Hands on a Hardbody's first act, a woman starts singing along with her headphones. Her nine companions—all competing against one another to win a pickup truck in a small Texas town—join in one by one.

The gospel tune picks up pace with clapping and moving in a circle around the truck, each person keeping one hand on the vehicle in keeping with the contest rules. For about four minutes, 10 people temporarily form a tight, joyful bond.

If only the rest of the show were that powerful. Hardbody boasts composer Trey Anastasio, part of the legendary jam band Phish, and an intriguing true story inspired by a 1997 documentary film. Sadly, Refuge Theatre Project's Chicago premiere doesn't live up to the hype, thanks to a boring book, bloated runtime and score that is more cliche than original.

Times are tough in Longview, Texas, but everyone rallies for the annual Hands on a Hardbody event, in which ten people chosen at random compete to see who can, well, touch a Nissan pickup the longest. There are 15-minute breaks every six hours, but other than that, one hand ( protected by cotton gardening gloves ) must be on the vehicle at all times. From a stoic Marine ( Max Cervantes ) to an outspoken mother of six ( Katherine Condit ), everyone's in it to win it, but that's before oppressive heat, shady politics and family secrets come into play.

Certainly, musicals have been based on stranger topics: Teeth, based on a movie about a teenage girl with vagina dentata, workshopped on the East Coast last summer. The problem with Hardbody is its lack of specifics. Each character has a thoroughly predictable conflict, from the sleazy dealership manager ( Dan Gold ) trying to keep his business afloat to the wide-eyed UPS worker ( Alli Atkenson ) who just wants to travel. Characters of color either make cameo appearances, such as Jared David Michael Grant's boisterous smooth talker, or exist solely to teach others about prejudice, as is the case with Sebastian Summers' ambitious veterinary student. And when past winner Benny Perkins ( Derek Fawcett, channeling his best Matthew McConaughey ) reveals his inner tragedies in the 11 o'clock number, the audience is expected to forgive two-plus hours of the character's casual racism, not to mention gaslighting and outright bullying.

Apart from the aforementioned gospel songs, Anastasio and Green's soundtrack is largely forgettable, and Doug Wright's dialogue sounds straight out of a sitcom about Southerners written in Los Angeles. Though Hands mostly falters due to its writing, Ariel Triunfo's choreography—unoriginal even in its somewhat limited capacity—doesn't help matters. Nor do the productions' copious microphone and acoustic issues, only a few of which could be attributed to opening-night roughness as opposed to, perhaps, an insufficient tech. Even standout performances, like Molly Kral's sweet and stalwart woman of faith and Roy Samra's wistful love interest, can't save Hardbody from itself.

Refuge Theatre Project has found a niche by presenting underproduced musicals with top-notch performers. Despite the latter, the results are often hit or miss: Some shows aren't produced much, for a reason. For every High Fidelity, Refuge's Jeff Award-winning runaway hit, there's a Lysistrata Jones, a clunky Greek myth-turned-pop musical that the company unwisely staged in an actual gym. Since early 2016, Refuge has chased another High Fidelity; however, because of major flaws, Hardbody is nowhere close to being a worthy successor.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Ada and the Engine 2019-06-26 - Playwright: Lauren Gunderson At: The Artistic Home, 1376 W. Grand Ave. Tickets: TheArtisticHome.org 866-811-4111; $34. Runs through: Aug. 4 "If we ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Something Clean 2019-06-26 - Playwright: Selina Fillinger At: Sideshow Theatre and Rivendell Ensemble at Victory Gardens Biograph, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets: 773-871-3000; VictoryGardens.org; $20-$30. Runs through: ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The River 2019-06-26 - Playwright: Jez Butterworth At: Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets: Bohotheatre.org Runs through: July 28 It's both simple and impossible ...


Gay News

Critics' Picks 2019-06-26 - La Havana Madrid, Teatro Vista @ The Den, extended through 30 June—Last two weeks to see this thrice-remounted musical about Chicago's Latinx history, ...


Gay News

The Second City salutes Pride 2019-06-22 - The Second City's Salute to Pride is waving a welcoming flag this June with an all LGBTQ identifying cast. Head upstairs to UP ...


Gay News

Steppenwolf Theatre Company Extends Ms. Blakk for President 2019-06-21 - CHICAGO ( June 21, 2019 ) — Due to popular demand, Steppenwolf Theatre Company has added seven more performances to the run of ...


Gay News

Hell in a Handbag to present The Drag Seed world premiere July 5 2019-06-20 - CHICAGO ( June 19, 2019 ) — Hell in a Handbag Productions continues its 2019 season with the world premiere of THE DRAG ...


Gay News

Windy City Times and Reader Theater Series 2019 2019-06-18 - Click on the link for full schedule and registration form: https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/reader-windy-city-times-theater-series/Content?oid=71068613 . ...


Gay News

THEATER Elizabeth Rex 2019-06-18 - Playwright: Timothy Findley At: Oak Park Festival Theatre at Austin Gardens, 167 Forest Ave., Oak Park. Phone: 847-; $15-$35. Runs through July 21 ...


Gay News

About Face Youth Theatre Ensemble to debut '20/20' 2019-06-18 - The About Face Youth Theatre Ensemble is celebrating its 20th anniversary with the world premiere of 20/20—a dive into recent queer history devised ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.