Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati

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Musical

Hands on a Hardbody

book by Doug Wright | lyrics by Amanda Green | music by Trey Anastasio & Amanda Green

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A close-up of the door handle of a red vehicle with the key in the lock and a keychain of Texas hanging. A close-up of the door handle of a red vehicle with the key in the lock and a keychain of Texas hanging.

Start. Your. Engines.

For 10 hard-luck Texans, a new lease on life is so close they can touch it. Under a scorching sun for days on end, armed with nothing but hope, humor, and ambition, they’ll fight to keep at least one hand on a brand-new truck in order to win it. Inspired by the true events of the 1997 documentary of the same name and infused with a “fresh roots-rock vibe,” this is the hilarious, hard-fought contest where only one winner can drive away with the American dream. Featuring a catchy combination of blues, rock and roll, and country songs written by Amanda Green and Phish front man Trey Anastasio, this musical is a peek into the lives of everyday, ordinary Americans struggling to survive against the backdrop of a broken and beaten working middle class.

Run time: ~2 hr, 15 min with one intermission

Content warning: These Texans get pretty competitive when vying for a truck that’ll change their lives. They sometimes use adult language, including both sexist and racist remarks (including the word sp*c). Under the scorching sun, they also discuss suicide, PTSD, violence, and drug use, all while putting their hands on a truck and dreams on the line.

You'll love this show if you love...

  • A big cast of complex characters who feel stuck and are fighting hard
  • Musicals with catchy rock, blues, and country music and spectacular choreography
  • Small towns, big dreams, and blue collar protagonists
  • Stories about hope and the small things that can change a life
  • Theatre based on real life by critically acclaimed writers
  • A blend of quirky comedy and edge-of-your-seat drama
  • Friendly (and not so friendly) competitions!

Similar ETC shows:

  • The Great American Trailer Park Musical by Betsy Kelso and David Nehl
  • Violet by Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley
  • Grey Gardens by Doug Wright, Michael Korie, and Scott Frankel

 

Similar titles:

  • 9 to 5 (20th Century Fox)
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Universal)
  • Footloose (Paramount Pictures)

Cast

Michael G. Bath

Frank Nugent
Michael G. Bath
A photo of a middle-aged man with a fair skin tone and gray hair staring into camera.

Jamie Cordes

Mike Ferris
Jamie Cordes

Denise Devlin

Heather Stovall
Denise Devlin
A photo of a middle-aged man with a fair skin tone and short-cropped gray hair smirking into the camera.

Phil Fiorini

JD Drew
Phil Fiorini

Annie Fitzpatrick

Cindy Barnes
Annie Fitzpatrick
A photo of an older woman with a fair skin tone and short gray hair arching an eyebrow and smirking into camera

Deb G. Girdler

Janis Curtis
Deb G. Girdler

Jim Hopkins

Don Curtis/Dr. Stokes
Jim Hopkins
A photo of a middle-aged man with a reddish-fair skin tone and red hair and a beard staring deeply into the camera

Jared Joplin

Benny Perkins
Jared Joplin

Andrew Maloney

Greg Wilhote
Andrew Maloney

Deondra Kamau Means

Ronald McCowan
Deondra Kamau Means

Patrick Earl Phillips

Chris Alvaro
Patrick Earl Phillips

Brooke Steele

Kelli Mangrum
Brooke Steele

Franco Valerga

Jesus Peña
Franco Valerga

Aleah Vassell

Norma Valverde
Aleah Vassell
A photo of a woman with a medium-light skin tone and short, curly gray hair smiling into the camera

Kate Wilford

Virginia Drew
Kate Wilford

Creative team

An older white man with a graying goatee and glasses looking seriously at the camera

Doug Wright

Playwright
Doug Wright
A middle-aged white woman with shoulder-length blonde hair smiling at the camera

Amanda Green

Lyricist & Co-Composer
Amanda Green
A middle-aged white man with shaggy blonde hair, graying facial hair, and glasses smiling at the camera

Trey Anastasio

Co-Composer
Trey Anastasio

D. Lynn Meyers

Director
D. Lynn Meyers
A photo of a man with a medium-light skin tone and closely cropped light brown hair smiling at the camera

Steve Goers

Music Director
Steve Goers

Chaz Wolcott

Choreographer
Chaz Wolcott
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Brian c. Mehring

Scenic & Lighting Designer
Brian c. Mehring
A gray placeholder silhouette on a white background representing a person without headshot

Cat Schmeal-Swope

Costume Designer
Cat Schmeal-Swope
A gray placeholder silhouette on a white background representing a person without headshot

Hannah Dringenburg

Wig Designer/Costume Shop Manager
Hannah Dringenburg

Matt Callahan

Sound Designer
Matt Callahan
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Shannon Rae Lutz

Properties Curator/Design Assistant
Shannon Rae Lutz
A photo of a young man with a fair skin tone and brown curly hair and a beard smiling at the camera

Jacob Dowell

Technical Director
Jacob Dowell

Chris Lipstreu

Associate Production Manager & Master Electrician
Chris Lipstreu
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Michele A. Kay

Production Stage Manager
Michele A. Kay

Lexi Muller

Assistant Stage Manager
Lexi Muller

Events & Accessibility

Meet the Artists

Thursday, June 20 at 7:30 pm | Sunday, June 23 at 2:00 pm

Stay after the show for a FREE post-show behind-the-scenes discussion with artists from the production.

 

American Sign Language

ASL-Interpreted Performance

Wednesday, June 26 at 7:30 pm

Interpreters perform a translation of the play into ASL alongside the performance in a position with great sightlines to see both the action of the play and the interpreters.

Ask for an assistive listening device at any performance from our box office.

Audio Described Performance

Audio Described Performance

Saturday, June 29 at 2:00 pm

Patrons can use a headset for one ear to hear descriptions of key visual elements inserted into natural pauses in the show, allowing patrons to still hear dialogue, sound effects, and music.

Ask for large print or Braille playbills at any performance from our box office.

Photo credits | First Timer’s Guide, Brooke Steele in The Frog Princess; Ticket Info, Bryant Bentley, Burgess Byrd, and Leslie Goddard-Baum in Detroit ’67 (Mikki Schaffner); Subscriptions, Cast of Hedwig and the Angry Inch; Ticket Discounts, Torie Wiggins in Your Negro Tour Guide. All images by Ryan Kurtz unless otherwise noted.