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BWW Interview: Christy Johnson of HANDS ON A HARD BODY at Minneapolis Musical Theatre

This production runs now through May 8th

BWW Interview: Christy Johnson of HANDS ON A HARD BODY at Minneapolis Musical Theatre Hands on a Hardbody is a regional premier playing through Minneapolis Musical Theatre and is presented at the showroom in the Luther Cadillac in Roseville.

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. In the hilarious, hard-fought contest that is Hands on a Hardbody only one winner can drive away with the American Dream. Inspired by the true events of the acclaimed 1997 documentary of the same name by S.R. Bindler, produced by Kevin Morris and Bindler.

We talk with Christy Johnson who plays Norma Valverde in the production.

How does it feel to be performing in front of an audience and to have live theatre again?

A few words to describe my feelings of excitement, nervousness, and exhilaration at the same time. I love performing in front of a live audience. The pandemic has caused us to put structures in place to make the experience comfortable for everyone. Minneapolis Musical Theatre has done a marvelous job of keeping the cast, crew, and audience safe.

How does this role compare to other roles you've played?

This role is the one I have identified with the most. Also, it's been the most challenging. Most characters I have played have been fictional. Since Norma is based on someone from real life, I wanted to portray her authentically as possible. Norma's driving force in her life is her faith and she expresses herself through music. My family roots are strong in faith, and it's been delightful playing a character that expresses themselves similarly.

What were the processes in developing your character?

Whenever I'm developing a character, I start with their background. I want to figure out who they are and what brought them to where they are today. During the rehearsal process, I figure out what is at stake for my character. The stakes help me drive my motivations through the entire show. Also, I will have conversations with other actors throughout the rehearsal process. My favorite part of developing my character happens when we have to be memorized. It allows me to let go of my inhibitions and to be present at the moment.

Did you face any challenges with your character or the production?

The biggest challenges have been the music. This show has many different styles of music genres. The harmonies are spectacular throughout the show but they keep us on our toes.

Challenges with the production have been working with the truck. Blocking has been trickly but we've found creative ways to make it work. All while keeping a hand one hand on the truck!

Do you have a favorite moment in the show?

Most of my favorite moments happen during the second half of the show. I love listening to each character as they discover more about themself.

Do you have a favorite song in the show?

Joy of the Lord. The song brings me back to my gospel roots.

How was working with the cast and the creative production?

Working with this cast has been phenomenal. Sarah has created a world of inclusivity while helping us discover new depths within our character. Abbi created choreography that was super fun to learn. The creative team has been kind, understanding, and thoughtful in their approach to the play. The cast has been nothing short of amazing. Everyone brings new life to their characters on stage. I am honored to be a part of the cast and to share the stage with talented people.

What is your favorite musical?

Les Miserable, Waitress, and The Color Purple

What is your favorite musical song to sing?

They Just Keep Moving The Line from SMASH Cast or All that Jazz from Chicago

Do you have another dream role?

Sarah in Ragtime

Favorite local spots?

I love Red Wagon Pizza - their pizza and old fashions are delicious. Sea Salt Eatery is my favorite summer restaurant. This seafood restaurant is located right by Minnehaha falls and I love their catfish po'boy. My other favorite spot would have to be Lake Harriet any time of year. The views around the lake are gorgeous!

Thank you so much Christy!

For more show and ticket information, click here

Photo courtesy of Minneapolis Musical Theatre

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