Last Friday, Husband and I had the pleasure of seeing and reviewing a new original broadway show, Hands on a Hard Body. I was especially curious about this new musical because it is not only set in Texas (Longview to be exact), but is also based on true events. It is based on a 1997 documentary of the same title. Here’s the lowdown…. a car dealership in Longview, TX used to host an annual competition for people to win a new truck, aka hardbody. Each contestant had to keep at least one hand on the truck, and whoever lasted the longest without leaning on the truck or squatting, won the brand new truck!
What a unique idea for a Broadway musical, right?! Going in I was a little nervous that the characters would be gross exaggerations of people from Texas. The characters turned out to be right on the money. I felt like I was sitting in 110 degree Texas sun on the black asphalt watching a group of hearty dream chasers do their best to win their new ride. The only thing I needed was a foldable lawn chair and a cooler full of beverages. I was right at home.
The characters/contestants were full of southern charm, but were each on a very different journey. There was one character who was a grumpy old sourpuss and put every single person down every chance he got. There was an older man trying to prove he was still capable of great feats. A young Hispanic boy who needed to sell the truck to help pay for his tuition at Texas A&M. A girl who needed the truck to become independent from her parents and make something of herself. A mother who needed to take her kids to school and her Husband to work. One very religious woman who believed this was God’s answer to her prayers, and a few more lovable, and just as worthy, characters.
The character I related to most was a young girl who sang about leaving her small town life and seeing the world. Even though she loves Texas, she dreams about what life is like beyond its borders. Winning this truck will give her the transportation she needs to hit the road and begin her adventures. I had this same yearning my whole childhood. I love where I grew up, but God, all I ever wanted was to travel and see all the mysterious places I read about constantly.
Husband and I had mixed feelings about the music. It was good, but some were a little too hokey. One song, “Joy of the Lord”, was PHENOMENAL. One of the best songs I have seen on Broadway. I have looked all over the Internet to find a video for you with no luck. So, take my word for it, this number was amazing.It was like being in a gospel choir, STOMP and a Broadway show all mixed together. Another song, “If I had this truck” explained just how necessary it is for a Texan to own a truck…which is true, very very true. I’ve never seen as many trucks on the road than when I’m in Texas.
This best part of the show was the story. I loved seeing ten people from all different walks of life being forced together for days and days. These people were forced to get to know one another, share and hear each other’s stories. Getting to know people different from yourself is a powerful learning experience. It teaches compassion and gives us a chance to walk in another human’s shoes for a bit. I left the show with a reminder to stop judging other’s too quickly. Sure, that guy next to me on the Subway was a complete jerk, but it’s possible he just had the worst day of his life, and maybe what he really needs is some compassion. I should remember to show more love to the grumps of the world.
I also left the show without my favorite black lace scarf. I realized about 45 minutes later, and luckily we were still in Time Square. We ran back to the theater to find the doors locked and lights off. We tried the stage door too. As we were pulling on the locked door it flew open. A tall man who obviously worked there and was on his way out looked at us like we were crazy, so we quickly explained why were tugging on the stage door. The worker told us he was the last person in the building and we were lucky we caught him. He allowed us to walk backstage, and out into the audience where I found my scarf lying across my seat.
I enjoyed our date night with a taste of my old southern life. The vivid and realistic characters made the show for me. It was a version of the American Dream that we all relate to and a reminder that this dream is still alive and valid even today.
**Sadly it was just announced that Hands on a Hardbody is closing THIS SATURDAY, April 13th. I’m shocked! So, if you want to see it, you better hurry!
P.S. During the show, one of the girls talks about how Matthew McConaughey is from Longview, and how he was voted “Sexiest Man Alive” by People Magazine in 2005. She then mentions that the car dealership keeps a framed copy of this magazine in the lady’s room. Look what I found in the lady’s room at the theatre during intermission….