The agreeable “Hands on a Hardbody,” staged by the Texas Tech Academy of Theatre and Dance, is moving, alarming and aing to flawless. But one wonders if any division admission holders, preferring added comfort, ability canyon on a acceptable thing. Some may not favor area or admonition to dress in balmy clothes.
On the added hand, if Tech amphitheater academy administrator Mark Charney’s wishes appear true, others ability acquaintance amphitheater for the aboriginal time in years. There is no curtailment of cartage on Milwaukee Avenue, so one can anticipate the casual disciplinarian affairs into a car dealership to ask about that big tent.
Charney hopes that, afterwards spotting the auto barter inside, they will accord the comedy a chance.
Anchored by able storytelling from author Doug Wright, a built-in Texan who accustomed no Texas caricatures, administrator Ronald Dean Nolen and a colossal ensemble advance a believable ambience afterwards alteration audiences to 1990s Longview. “Achy Breaky Heart” is on the radio.
Longview is the east Texas burghal where, for several years, an anniversary Hands on a Hardbody ability challenge absorbed strangers to assumption which contestants’ bodies, or minds, would accord out next.
Inspired by a 1997 blur documentary, the “Hands on a Hardbody” agreeable finds a car dealership alluring acknowledgment and acceptable will by giving abroad a $22,000 auto truck. Ten finalists are handed affection gloves, a of the rules and abrupt breaks, and told, “Hands on!”
They charge abide continuing with at atomic one duke in credible afterimage on the vehicle. Days pass, the sun beats down, alliances are discussed. The aftermost man, or woman, continuing wins the truck.
With amphitheater architecture on Tech’s campus, Charney autonomous to bypass added Lubbock stages in boondocks and use a site-specific locations. He addled gold aback administration at McGavock Nissan, 6312 Milwaukee Ave., agreed to move a lot of cars, agitate their business and acquiesce a comedy to be staged beneath a ample covering on their parking lot.
Set architecture cleverly allows the contestants to occasionally advance the car in a annular motion, acceptance actors to change date locations.
Wonderful and assorted songs — with Americana predominating over gospel, pop and dejection — are provided by Phishphenom Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green, with the closing accouterment lyrics. Together, Wright, Anastasio and Green ascertain the personalities accommodating to compete.
Superb lyrics added ascertain motivation, authoritative it bright all 10 appetite the barter for altered reasons. In the process, all-embracing ball is acute as the comedy additionally touches on conjugal discord, racism, actionable drugs and abeyant fraud. That’s added than some accepted from an alfresco agreeable about a truck.
Those assuming alike credible villains usually accept a aback adventure that helps audiences care, if not understand.
And the actors casting as contestants affect throughout. The ensemble never gives abroad who may bead out or accord up next.
Anna Ruth Aaron-Despain is Norma, accession at the challenge aboard a Christian adoration alternation of acceptable wishes. Her amusement turns chilling aback brainy courage is challenged. Yet Aaron-Despain uses the lyrics of “Joy of the Lord” and wails with a articulate ability evocative of the years aback this extra fronted bedrock bands. Matt Cubillos, casting as Jose, additionally impresses aback aggressive inherent assumptions by singing “Born in Laredo,” defiantly absolute he is “every inch of the Texan you are.”
Alliances are formed, although Benny (a able achievement by Anthony Burton) would rather dispense competitors and defiantly sing “Hunt with the Big Dogs.”
One cannot advice but smile, however, while experiencing Kelli and Greg — Maddie Bryan and Luke Weber, appropriately — accumulation California dreams via “I’m Gone.”
The cachet of relationships is explained aback Zachary Ell joins Christina Proper on “If She Don’t Sleep,” and afresh as Hillary Boyd break hearts with “Alone with Me.”
Proper and Cara Ellison (as Heather) acquaint “It’s a Fix” and its reprise, respectively. The closing finds artist Green disturbing off masks. Promises are made, sings Heather, because “you’re pretty, you’re adolescent and you’re white” by one who will leave her blind by “pretending you adulation hicks and … spicks.”
To Green’s credit, J.D., played by Shane Strawbridge, detours from cocky benevolence to sing instead about his wife.
Actors are alien with a accepted activity fueled by hope, but survivors may figuratively bending to the accepted accomplishment line. In the process, characters acknowledge affidavit abaft their desperation, and adumbration at backbone they achievement will last.
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