It's More Than a Contest

As all my friends know, I fall in love with almost every show we work on – partly because I get to pick which shows we work on, and we produce only really cool shows.

But Hands on a Hardbody is special. It's one of those shows that I knew was really unique and really well-crafted, but because we're coming at it differently from the original production on Broadway, I didn't really know exactly what it would be like in the end.

I'm happy to report that it's extraordinary. Rich, emotional, funny, insightful, intense, suspenseful, and chock full of human truth and complexity. Watching the final dress rehearsal last night, I got chills a number of times and got really choked up a number of times. And this is after living with the show for months. The finale choked me up just because I felt so overwhelmingly happy at what we've created.

With some shows (Bukowsical, Love Kills, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, etc.), I really have no idea what our audiences will think. With Hardbody I know. People are going to fall in love with this show and this cast.

I knew from the beginning that this would be a show about acting above all. And the acting is remarkable. Everybody's been on the right road from the get-go, but just over the last three rehearsals, the characters and relationships have gotten so much richer, so much more detailed, so much more honest. Our actors really disappear inside these amazing characters.

There are a lot of laughs, but there are also moments of incredible intensity and power. There are moments that are wild and rowdy, but there are also moments of silence and really subtle acting.

My creative process – to just follow the script and score wherever it takes us – has been proven again. We imposed nothing on the material. Our only goal has been to tell this story as clearly and honestly as we can. People often ask me what my "approach" to a particular show will be, and I always answer the same way – just to tell the story. I'm incredibly lucky as a director that I get to work with artists and musicians and designers like these folks. We have such fun in rehearsal – we laugh a lot – but we also work hard. Everyone involved has done such extraordinary work on this show.

I predict not only amazing word-of-mouth and great reviews, but also lots of repeat customers.  There are so many actors onstage for much of the show and there's always something wonderful going on, however subtle, no matter where you look.

And then there's the truck. God bless Rob Lippert. He said he could make this truck for us, and he fucking did it. We have a goddamn truck onstage. I want to just stand and watch audiences as they come into the theatre and see how they react when they turn the corner and see our truck sitting there. We've already gotten requests from two other theatre companies to rent our truck, after we close.

We all make shitty money doing this, but every single person gives 150% and it shows onstage. Opening a show always reminds me quite vividly how collaborative my art form is. We need so many great people doing great work to bring a musical to life, particularly an unconventional musical like this one.

I've tried to explain to the cast just how powerful the experience of seeing this show is. I can't even imagine what it will be like for someone who comes in knowing nothing about the show, having never heard these remarkable, beautiful songs.

Ticket sales are already really good; our presale is the second-highest in our history, second only to Rent. This run is going to be awesome. I hope you'll all come join us. Hands on a Hardbody is everything I think theatre should be. I've never been more proud.

And I cannot get these damn songs out of my head, no matter what I do. But I'm okay with that.

The adventure continues!

Long Live the Musical!