Trey Anastasio’s Broadway musical gets it’s Vermont premiere at THT this weekend


The cast of “Hands on a Hardbody” rehearse the musical, which will be performed on September 20-22 at Town Hall Theater.

Jillian Torres and Bill Bickford rehearse a scene in “Hands On A Hardbody,” which will open at Town Hall Theater in Middlebury on Friday, Sept. 20.

MIDDLEBURY — Trey Anastasio became a legend in the world of rock & roll with his Burlington-based jam band, Phish. Not many people know, however, that he wrote the songs for a Broadway musical, “Hands on a Hardbody,” in 2013. The show received decent reviews, but it had a surprisingly short run.

Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater is giving the show its Vermont premiere on Sept. 20-22.

Based on a 1997 documentary, the show centers on a bizarre contest in Texas. Ten people put their hands on a brand-new pick-up truck and stand there in the wilting Texas heat. The last person standing with their hand on the truck wins the truck.

“What Trey and his co-writers Amanda Green and Doug Wright did with this story is amazing,” says THT Artistic Director Doug Anderson, who is directing the local performance of the musical. “Every character gets a solo, and we start to learn what the truck would mean to these disadvantaged people. By the end of the musical, you know everything about them.”

Anastasio serves up a wide range of musical styles, including country, blues, gospel and Broadway-type ballads.

“Every song is a winner,” says Anderson. “And most bring a lump to your throat.”

THT has put together a cast of talented and experienced local performers, including Bill and Mindy Bickford, Justin Bouvier, Philip Caycedo, Michael Glidden, Leigh Guptill, David Harcourt, Jon Isham, Tanya Lehman, Poppy Rees, Valerie Smith-Hastings, Allison and Cameron Steinmetz, Jillian Torres and Pierre Vachon. Chuck Miller is at the keyboard and conducts the four-piece band.

The real star of the show may be the truck itself. A gleaming red pick-up sits in the middle of the Town Hall Theater stage, the object of everyone’s dreams and desires.

“Hands on a Hardbody” will be performed at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 20-21, at 7:30 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Sept. 22.

Tickets are $18 to $36 plus applicable fees and taxes, and can be purchased online at townhalltheater.org or at the box office, noon to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, 802-382-9222.

 

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