Carradine, Foster, Case, Emick & More to Star in Premiere of HANDS ON A HARDBODY at La Jolla
La Jolla Playhouse has announced the cast and creative team for its upcoming production of the world-premiere, commissioned musical Hands on a Hardbody, book by Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Wright (I Am My Own Wife, Creditors), lyrics by Amanda Green (High Fidelity), music by Trey Anastasio (lead singer of the popular band Phish) and Amanda Green, with direction by Neil Pepe (Speed-the-Plow) and musical staging by Benjamin Millepied (BLACK SWAN). The production will run April 27 – June 17, 2012 (press opening: Saturday, May 12 at 8:00 pm) in the Mandell Weiss Theatre.
The cast features Tony Award nominee Keith Carradine (Nashville, Broadway's The Will Rogers Follies) as "JD Drew," Allison Case (Hair revival on Broadway) as "Kelli Mangrum," Tony Award winner Jarrod Emick (Broadway's Ring of Fire) as "Mike Ferris," Hunter Foster (Playhouse's Little Miss Sunshine; Broadway's Urinetown) as "Benny Perkins," Jay Armstrong Johnson (Broadway's Catch Me If You Can) as "Greg Wilhote," David Larsen (Broadway's Good Vibrations) as "Chris Alvaro," Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone (Legally Blonde national tour) as "Heather Stovall," Mary GorDon Murray (Broadway's Little Me) as "Virginia Drew," Connie Ray (author/performer, Smoke on the Mountain, Broadway's Next Fall) as "Cindy Barnes," Jon Rua (Broadway's In the Heights) as "Jesus Pe?a," Keala Settle (Broadway's Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) as "Norma Valverde," Dale Soules (Grey Gardens) as "Janis Curtis," Jacob Ming Trent (Lincoln Center Theatre's On the Levee) as "Ronald McGowan," Scott Wakefield (Broadway's It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues) as "Frank Nugent" and William Youmans (Playhouse's Dracula, Twelfth Night) as "Don Curtis/Dr. Stokes."
The creative team includes: Doug Wright, book; Amanda Green, music and lyrics; Trey Anastasio, music; Neil Pepe, direction; Benjamin Millepied, musical staging; Zachary Dietz (In the Heights), music direction; Christine Jones (Spring Awakening), scenic design; Susan Hilferty (more than a dozen Playhouse productions, including Creditors and Two Rooms; Broadway's Wicked), costume design; Tony Award winner Kevin Adams (American Idiot), lighting design; Steve Canyon Kennedy (Jersey Boys), sound design; and Playhouse Resident Dramaturg Shirley Fishman, dramaturgy.
When an auto dealership in Longview, TX launches an endurance contest, ten economically-strapped strangers embark on a journey that puts their hearts, minds and bodies to the test. The contestant who keeps at least one hand on a brand-new hardbody truck the longest gets to drive it off the lot. What initially seems like a mere publicity stunt soon becomes a soul-baring battle of wills. Only one can win, but for all involved, the truck holds the key to their own private American dream. Based on the documentary film of the same name, Hands on a Hardbody features a brilliant rock, folk and country score from Amanda Green and Trey Anastasio, along with a masterful story by Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Wright.
The Playhouse commissioned Hands on a Hardbody and further developed it through a series of readings and workshops, as part of the institution's mission to serve as a safe harbor for artists and a launching pad for new work.
Trey Anastasio is a founding member of the GRAMMY®-nominated, genre-melding rock band Phish, which has released 15 studio albums, 75 complete live concert CDs and a series of 186 full concert downloads. Drawing inspiration from experimental jazz, pop, reggae, metal, classical and barbershop music, he has also released eight solo albums and regularly tours with Phish, Trey Anastasio Band and often performs with orchestras around the country.
Amanda Green co-wrote the lyrics for Bring It On: The Musical, which launched its national tour at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles last November. She wrote the lyrics for High Fidelity on Broadway. Tapped by Arthur Laurents, she wrote additional lyrics for the revival of Hallelujah Baby (Arena Stage, directed by Mr. Laurents). She co-starred/wrote the lyrics for For the Love of Tiffany: A Wifetime Original Musical (NY Fringe Festival). Winner of The Jonathan Larson Award and Abe Ohlman Award for Excellence in Songwriting, she has written episodes of The Wonder Pets for Nick, Jr. and comic essays for Playboy Magazine. In addition to Hands on a Hardbody, Ms. Green and Trey Anastasio have penned songs, a few of which he performs with his bands Phish and TAB. Ms. Green performs her songs everywhere from Birdland to The Bluebird Café in Nashville. Her revue, Put a Little Love in Your Mouth! The Songs of Amanda Green, sold out at Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theater and Joe's Pub. CD available at www.greenpiecemusic.com.
Doug Wright won the Pulitzer Prize, the Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award for I Am My Own Wife in 2004. The play was developed at The Playhouse as the institution's inaugural Page To Stage workshop production. He received Tony and Drama Desk nominations for his book for the Broadway musical Grey Gardens. He also authored the book for the stage incarnation of Disney's beloved film The Little Mermaid. In 2009, he adapted and direcTed August Strindberg's Creditors for La Jolla Playhouse in a production that was named Best Play of the Year by the San Diego Critics Circle. His stage work has been seen internationally in countries from Japan to Romania. Mr. Wright won an Obie Award for his play Quills. He went on to write the screenplay adaptation, which was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and received the Writer's Guild of America's Paul Selvin Award. The film garnered three Academy Award nominations and was named Best Picture by the National Board of Review. Other notable film work includes production rewrites on major releases at Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox and The Weinstein Company. For director Rob Marshall, he penned the television special Tony Bennett: An American Classic, which received seven Emmy Awards. Mr. Wright currently serves on the boards of the New York Theater Workshop, Yaddo and the Dramatists Guild. He is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, and of the Writers Guild of America.
Neil Pepe is an acclaimed theatre director who recently directed the Broadway production of David Mamet's A Life in the Theatre starring Sir Patrick Stewart and T.R. Knight. Prior to that on Broadway, he directed Speed-The-Plow starring Jeremy Piven, Raul Esparza and Elisabeth Moss. Since 1992, he has been the Artistic Director of the award-winning Atlantic Theater Company, which has produced more than 125 plays, establishing itself as one of the premiere Off-Broadway theater companies. He recently directed the world premiere of Happy Hour by Ethan Coen, continuing their collaboration after Offices and Almost an Evening (and its Off-Broadway transfer to the Theatres at 45 Bleecker). Last fall at the Atlantic, he directed the world premiere of Adam Rapp's Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling. Other recent shows include the revival of Frank Gilroy's The Subject Was Roses at Center Theatre Group starring Martin Sheen, Frances Conroy and Brian Geraghty; David Mamet's Keep Your Pantheon and School; Jez Butterworth's Parlour Song, his third collaboration with the playwright following the American premieres of The Night Heron and Mojo; David Pittu's What's That Smell: The Music of Jacob Sterling and its transfer to New World Stages; David Mamet's Romance and its run at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles; Howard Korder's Sea of Tranquility; The Beginning of August by Tom Donaghy, starring Mary Steenburgen at South Coast Repertory and Atlantic; Harold Pinter's Celebration and The Room; and the revival of David Mamet's American Buffalo starring William H. Macy, Phillip Baker Hall and Mark Webber which had its initial run at the Donmar Warehouse in London before moving to New York.
Born in Bordeaux, France, Benjamin Millepied began his dance training at the age of eight with his mother Catherine Millepied, a modern dancer. He studied classical ballet at the Conservatoire National de Lyon and later at the School of American Ballet -- the official school of the New York City Ballet, becoming principal dancer at the company in 2001. A sought-after dancer and choreographer with an extensive repertoire that includes featured and premiere roles in works by Balanchine, Robbins, Wheeldon, Martins and Ratmansky, among others, Millepied has directed the Morris Center Dance Workshop and has held the post of Choreographer-in-Residence at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York. Millepied's works have been commissioned, premiered and presented in collaboration with the Grand Théâtre de Genève; Paris Opera Ballet; Metropolitan Opera; New York City Ballet; Joyce Theatre New York; Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, and many others. For a full list of works, visit benjaminmillepied.com. In 2010, Millepied choreographed and starred in Darren Aronofsky's feature film BLACK SWAN. In the same year he was made Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture. The 2012-13 season will inaugurate the newly-conceived L.A. Dance Project -- an art collective that aims to establish new models for creative collaboration with the goal of reaching out to broader audiences. Millepied's upcoming projects include choreography for a world premiere for the New York City Ballet and an animated feature for Quad Productions. Benjamin Millepied is the face of Yves Saint Laurent's new fragrance "l'homme libre."