HANDS ON A HARDBODY Comes to Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati in June

Performances run June 8-30.

By: May. 17, 2024
HANDS ON A HARDBODY Comes to Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati in June
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Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati will close its 2023-2024 Season with the regional musical revival of the fan favorite Hands on a Hardbody. Based on the 1997 documentary film of the same name, this show garnered three Tony Award nominations and features a brilliant score from Amanda Green and Trey Anastasio (front man for the band Phish), along with a masterful story by Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Wright
(I Am My Own Wife, Grey Gardens). The show, which features a full-size Nissan hardbody truck on stage alongside its cast of fifteen, plays June 8–30, 2024 and is directed by D. Lynn Meyers. Premiere Sponsors are Daniel Brown and Mark Haggard. Truck Sponsors are Rich Postler and Manuel Hernandez. Music Sponsors are Damon, Holly, and Deej Ragusa. Artist Sponsor is Messer Construction Co.

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 true events 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, 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.

“In today’s world, if we can unify over something or someone we love, we can learn a lot from each other,” explains ETC Producing Artistic Director D. Lynn Meyers. “That’s what happens in Hands on a Hardbody. The music is hauntingly beautiful and terrifically catchy. We chose to do this play again and right now because of the economic state of theatre in this country. It’s an enormous undertaking, but it was time to invest in the people that make theatre possible, and hiring fifteen actors to do this amazing Tony-nominated play is the right thing for Ensemble to do to stay true to who we are.”

Cast includes Michael G. Bath (Frank Nugent), Denise Devlin (Heather Stovall), Phil Fiorini (JD Drew), Annie Fitzpatrick (Cindy Barnes), Deb G. Girdler (Janis Curtis), Jim Hopkins (Don Curtis/Dr. Stokes), Jared Joplin (Benny Perkins), Andrew Maloney (Greg Wilhote), Deondra Kamau Means (Ronald McCowan), Patrick Earl Phillips (Chris Alvaro), Brooke Steele (Kelli Mangrum), and Kate Wilford (Virginia Drew).

Additionally, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati welcomes the following performers in their ETC debuts: Jamie Cordes (Mike Ferris), Franco Valerga (Jesus Peña), and Aleah Vassell (Norma Valverde).

Production team: Brian c. Mehring (Resident Scenic & Lighting Designer), Steve Goers (Music Director), Chaz Wolcott (Choreographer), Cat Schmeal-Swope (Costume Designer), Matt Callahan (Sound Designer), Shannon Rae Lutz (Properties Curator & Design Assistant), Jacob Dowell (Technical Director), and Chris Lipstreu (Associate Production Manager). Production Stage Manager is Michele A. Kay. Assistant Stage Manager is Lexi Muller.


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