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La Jolla Playhouse presents a new american musical Hands on a Hardbody

The creative team(L-R): Trey Anastasio, Amanda Green, Benjamin Millipied, Neil Pepe and Doug Wright; photos by Aidan Schultz-Meyer.

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A New American Musical

Hands on a Hardbody

Only through June 17, 2012

Book by Doug Wright
Lyrics by Amanda Green
Music by Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green
Based on the documentary film by S. R. Bindler and Kevin Morris
Musical Staging by Benjamin Millepied
Directed by Neil Pepe

La Jolla Playhouse Commission

Inspired by true events...

It’s been a tough year for the ten strangers competing for a new hardbody truck, but now their fate is in their hands. Over the next 144 hours they will laugh, cry and push their bodies and minds to the limits as they fight to keep at least one hand on a brand new truck. The contestant with the most nerve — and tenacity — will drive away with the American Dream.

Based on the documentary film of the same name, Hands on a Hardbody features a brilliant score from Amanda Green and Trey Anastasio, along with a masterful story by Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Wright.

Playhouse's Hands on a Hardbody headed for Broadway!
> UT San Diego


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Meet the Creative Team

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 Writer’s Guild of America.

Amanda Green is currently co-writing the lyrics for High Fidelity (Alliance Theater, January 2011) which is launching its national tour at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles this 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.

Composer/guitarist/vocalist,Trey Anastasio, is a founding member of Phish. One of the most successful and innovative rock bands of the last 30 years, Phish has built a career on uncompromising musicianship and spectacular live performances. Anastasio – who also tours regularly with Trey Anastasio Band – has received GRAMMY® nominations for his recordings with Phish and for his solo work. He has collaborated with such artists as Dave Matthews, Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Toots and the Maytals, B.B. King and The Roots, and – as part of the trio Oysterhead – Les Claypool (Primus) and Stewart Copeland (The Police). Named by Rolling Stone as one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, Anastasio has performed his original compositions with numerous symphonies, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The New York Times hailed Anastasio’s Carnegie Hall performance with the New York Philharmonic as “that rarest of rarities, a classical-rock hybrid that might please partisans from both constituencies.” He is currently at work on a new solo album, which will be released this fall.

Benjamin Millepied 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, please visit www.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; the musical "Hands on a Hardbody" for La Jolla Playhouse; and an animated feature for Quad Productions. Benjamin Millepied is the face of Yves Saint Laurent’s new fragrance “l’homme libre”.

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 will next direct 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). This 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.

Learn More About New Play Development

La Jolla Playhouse: Where American Theatre is Born

The Playhouse commissioned the writers of Hands on a Hardbody to create an important new theatre piece that captures the heart of the American spirit. As part of the institution’s mission to serve as a safe harbor for artists and a launching pad for new work, we’ve shepherded this evocative musical through a series of readings and workshops and are now ready to mount a full production on our stage.

The Playhouse maintains a steadfast commitment to new play development and to providing unfettered creative opportunities for the leading artists of today and tomorrow. One of the ways we fulfill this commitment is to commission those playwrights whose stories allow us to reflect with fresh perspectives on our life and times. Since the rebirth of the Playhouse in 1982, we have commissioned more than 40 new plays, musicals, adaptations and Performance Outreach Program (POP) Tours from a broad range of American playwrights. Some of our recent commissions include Milk Like Sugar, a searing new play inspired by playwright Kirsten Greenidge’s attendance at the Aspen Ideas Festival; Claudia Shear’s Restoration and Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Wright’s adaptation of August Strindberg’s Creditors. Our relationships with these playwrights and the work they create are the lifeblood of our theatre and have helped define the adventurous and provocative theatre that has become the hallmark of the Playhouse.

Press and Reviews for Hands on a Hardbody

"…Strikes a fresh, topical note for American musical theater"
> Read More from the New York Times

"Jubilance spreads like a prairie wildfire"
> Read More from UT San Diego

"A fun ride!"
> Read More from Los Angeles Times

"A very lively and well-crafted production -- one that could drive itself into the winner's circle on Broadway"
> Read More from Theatremania

"A true showstopper, the dazzling a cappella 'Joy to the Lord' stomp[s] into your heart with hardbody-slappin' rhythm"
> Read More from Variety

"‘Hands on a Hardbody’ crazy idea, sensational show"
> Read More from the La Jolla Light

"A Test Of Hearts, Minds And 'Hands On A Hardbody'"
> Listen to the NPR Story

"A touch extreme: Playhouse's 'Hardbody'"
> Read More from the UT San Diego

"'Hands on a Hardbody' gets song and dance from stand and wait"
> Read More from the LA Times

"Exclusive: Phish’s Trey Anastasio Talks About His First Musical"
> Read More from Rolling Stone

"Hands on a Hardbody: Amanda Green on Developing the Musical, Writing with Trey"
> Read More from Jambands.com

Mandell Weiss Theatre

Performance Times

Tuesday & Wednesday: 7:30 pm

Thursday & Friday: 8:00 pm

Saturday: 2:00 pm & 8:00 pm

Sunday: 2:00 pm & 7:00 pm


The Mandell Weiss Theatre is a 492-seat proscenium arch theatre, with two front rows of removable seats allowing for a greater stage length. The theatre also maintains an upstairs wooden deck for parties, receptions and outdoor gatherings, and a small outdoor amphitheatre for pre-show entertainment.

> Learn more

Hands on a Hardbody Events

Foodie Friday

Friday, May 18 at 6:00 pm

We’re celebrating Hands on a Hardbody with beer and BBQ! Buy a ticket to our new American musical on May 18 and enjoy a complimentary microbrew tasting from Stone Brewing Company before the show. Pick up a bite to eat from two of the best BBQ trucks in town - Slow Cal BBQ, Chop Soo-ey. And don’t miss dessert from Sweets in Motion!

Foodie Friday

Friday, June 8 at 6:00 pm

The Foodie Friday celebration continues on June 8. Buy a ticket to the show and enjoy a complimentary microbrew tasting from Stone Brewing Company before the show. Plus food trucks Super Q BBQ and Ms. Patty Melt will be on site with hickory smoked barbecue, classic griddled fare, decadent sweets.

Hands on a Hardbody Truck Stops

We are hitting the road with the Hands on a Hardbody truck! Find us at one of these events and try your luck at our prize wheel. You could win a pair of tickets to our new musical!


North Park Festival of the Arts

Sunday, May 20 from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Celebrate the arts with us in North Park! This free family event features food, arts & crafts and live music.
Location: University and 30th Street in North Park

(L-R): Doug Wright, Trey Anastasio, Amanda Green, Neil Pepe, Benjamin Millepied; photo by Terri Rippee.

The company in rehearsal (L-R): Keith Carradine, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Allison Case, Jarrod Emick and Hunter Foster; photo by Terri Rippee.

(L-R): Trey Anastasio (co-composer) and Amanda Green (lyricist and co-composer); photo by Dana Holliday

Co-composer Trey Anastasio (left) and director Neil Pepe; photo by Terri Rippee.

Pulitzer Prize winner and HANDS ON A HARDBODY book writer Doug Wright, in rehearsal; photo by Terri Rippee.

The full company of La Jolla Playhouse’s world-premiere musical HANDS ON A HARDBODY; photo by Terri Rippee.

Neil Pepe (director) and the company in rehearsal; photo by Terri Rippee.

Preview the Music

Song previews for the world premiere musical HANDS ON A HARDBODY. Be the first to hear the songs!