Merely Players Presents Rock Musical Hands on a Hardbody

December 5, 2023

Merely Players is in the middle of a diverse and interesting 2023-24 season, currently showing the regional premiere of Hands on a Hardbody at the Merely Underground at 789 Tech Center Drive. Hands on a Hardbody is a 2013 country rock musical based on a 1997 documentary about a group of Texans who compete to win a new truck by keeping their hands on it the longest. This unconventional musical, with a book by Doug Wright and music by Amanda Green and Trey Anastasio of Phish, explores a wide array of human experiences and emotions, as the contestants reveal their stories through an upbeat score that fuses country, blues, and rock. Featuring an ensemble cast of local talent and an actual full size working truck, this show is fun for the whole family. By Jessica McCallum This story is sponsored by Sky Ute Casino and The Payroll Department

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The Merely Players season is trucking along with the regional premiere of "Hands on a Hardbody," a country rock musical about a group of hard luck Texans who compete to win a truck by keeping their hands on it longest. "Hands on a Hardbody" runs from December 1st to December 10th at the Merely Underground in the Durango Tech Center. You're watching the "Local News Network," brought to you by The Payroll Department and Sky Ute Casino. I'm Gillian Arnwine.

"Hands on a Hardbody," the musical, actually came from a 1997 documentary that was filmed in a small town in Texas about a group of, I believe is it sixteen individuals that kept their hands on a truck and the last person with it on wins. The musical is derived from that documentary. It's interesting as we go through the show again and we learn it more, we hear so many of the lines and words from the documentary put into the actual show that we're performing. And Trey Anastasio and the band Phish really put beautiful lyrics and compelling melodies into this production to not only fit the stories that we are telling but also make you really think into the story and be a part of it in a very live rock musical way. It is a rock concert on stage with a beautiful story being told at the same time. "Hands on a Hardbody" is full of complex ideas and complex thoughts that so many humans deal with on a regular basis and that we deal with in America, and this hits it right on the head. You know, we talk about some very human things; we talk about some beautiful things, we talk about some not so beautiful things, but it's all human. And in the words of the show, it's a human drama kind of thing, you know. We have a human drama to us, and we can all relate to it in some way, and this show really brings that to the forefront.

"Hands on a Hardbody" features an ensemble cast of local talent that embody a diverse group of contestants and supporting characters, who reveal their stories through a lively and unique musical score. It fuses country, rock, blues, and even a little gospel. What connects all these human stories is the pursuit of the American Dream, symbolized in this case by a brand new shiny truck. Starring as the truck is Thespis, a 2001 Mazda theater hauler belonging to technical director, Charles Ford. The truck underwent a remarkable makeover to become the shiny new Nissan at the center of the plot.

One thing that I always hear from our audience members and from the patrons here at Merely Players is the spectacle that Charles Ford creates on stage and how it's going to be new every time and what is his vision going to be. And this show, in particular, is wild. There's not many shows where you see a full working truck on stage where it moves, and the actors are climbing on top of it and honking the horn. It really is another character in the show. So that's going to be a spectacle that I think everyone's going to be excited to see.

Although tickets have been sold out for several weeks, it is still possible to see "Hands on a Hardbody." Sign up on the waitlist, or go to the theater a half hour before showtime, where seats often open up at the last minute.

I hope that audiences when they see "Hands on a Hardbody," experience the humanity, not only within the characters, but in the world right now. We live in a hard time. There is war around us. We see things happening that aren't necessarily pretty. And this show does bring to light those unpretty things, but allows us to see them in a new light, in more compassionate light. And I think in the spirit of the holidays, 'cause we are doing this in the Christmas time, you know, and in the holiday time, it's a good reminder for us to see the human kindness in all of us.

Tickets are now on sale for the remainder of the Merely season. Upcoming shows include the critically acclaimed play, "Small Mouth Sounds" in February, and the classic Broadway favorite, "Chicago." Merely Players will hold open auditions for "Chicago" on December 11th and 12th from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. For audition requirements and ticket sales, visit the Merely Players website. For information about this and other stories, visit Thank you for watching this edition of the "Local News Network," I'm Gillian Arnwine.


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