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  Hands on a Hardbody at Preston Bradley Center

Hands on a Hardbody

Preston Bradley Center
941 W. Lawrence Ave Chicago

Nominated for Best Musical by the New York Drama League and inspired by true events, the hilarious and hopeful Hands on a Hard Body is based on the acclaimed 1997 documentary of the same name by S.R. Bindler, produced by Kevin Morris and Bindler. Only one winner can drive home the American Dream and 10 hard-luck Texans all want the keys. Under a scorching sun for days on end, they will each fight to keep at least one hand on a brand-new truck in order to win it.

Presented by Refuge Theater Project

Thru - Apr 27, 2019

Price: $30

Show Type: Musical

Running Time: 2hrs, 30mins; one intermission

  Hands on a Hardbody Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...Alas, the idea of staging the work inside the huge hall at the Preston Bradley Center didn’t work so well. The acoustics there are challenging and tend to swallow Amanda Green’s lyrics and, on opening night at least, the show was further plagued with a glitchy sound system. And the band was way too far away."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...It's all so transparent it's embarrassing, but director Christopher Pazdernik has assembled a cast for Refuge Theatre Project who sing the stuffing out of the cut-and-paste score. The five-piece band ain't bad either. At its most ambitious, the show attempts to lionize the working poor, albeit working poor stuck to a truck, but employing the sort of emotional shorthand that turns most everything to treacle, hokum, and bathos. After all, this is a world where all anyone needs to confess their darkest secrets is a stirring four-bar intro."
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Justin Hayford

Windy City Times - Somewhat Recommended

"...Refuge Theatre Project has found a niche by presenting underproduced musicals with top-notch performers. Despite the latter, the results are often hit or miss: Some shows aren't produced much, for a reason. For every High Fidelity, Refuge's Jeff Award-winning runaway hit, there's a Lysistrata Jones, a clunky Greek myth-turned-pop musical that the company unwisely staged in an actual gym. Since early 2016, Refuge has chased another High Fidelity; however, because of major flaws, Hardbody is nowhere close to being a worthy successor."
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Lauren Emily Whalen

Chicago Theatre Addict - Recommended

"...Trey Anastasio’s (music) and Amanda Green’s (lyrics and music) folksy score is both simple and astounding. Green (who’s the daughter of celebrated lyricist and playwright Adolph Green) adeptly captures the hearts and souls of the ten contestants. She manages to use words and phrases that feel honest to these people without sacrificing their deep well of wants and desires."
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Bob Bullen

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...Refuge Theatre, under the spirited artistry and leadership of Christopher Pazdernk, once again has a winning musical on its hands. It’s a show that shouldn’t be missed because, although set in the 90’s, it still speaks to the America of today. The production features a community of genuine, real-life characters, warmly and sincerely portrayed with honesty by an ensemble of gifted professionals. They’ve all done their homework and truly know their characters inside-out. If Refuge can overcome the venue’s poor acoustics and make sure their sound system is working properly, audiences will flock to this spirited show and lose themselves in a gorgeous, heartfelt production."
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Colin Douglas

The Fourth Walsh - Somewhat Recommended

"...Individuals seemed to hit the right notes but I couldn’t hear the words. I was able to decipher some songs, like “It’s a fix”, when some words were actually spoken. I enjoyed the band but they added to the sound challenges. When they sat out in a number like “Joy of the Lord”, the impressive singing finally was heard."
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Katy Walsh

Chicagoland Musical Theatre - Somewhat Recommended

"...However, while the production team is tactful in their work and abundant in skill, the acoustics of the found space do not assist in execution of this story. An unfortunate fact of this production’s space is that diction gets muddled by the echo of the large auditorium; as such, it is often difficult to clearly discern certain lyrics and lines."
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Quinn Rigg

Chicago On Stage - Recommended

"...Hands on a Hardbody is hard not to admire. It is full of strong performances, especially Fawcett, who is excellent as the man you want to hate, and all of the actors fully inhabit their characters. The four-piece band is solid. Wright’s script and Anastacio/Green’s songs are full of droll commentary on life in modern America. (One character notes that Longview has three Walmarts, a sure sign of progress.) Pazdernik has done everything he can within the obvious limitations of the set to keep it alive and interesting. And the music is memorable and varied. What keeps this from being a more unmitigated recommendation is that sound system that is far from perfect. Still, if you can deal with that, or if they get it under control, you should enjoy Hands on a Hardbody."
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Karen Topham

Picture This Post - Highly Recommended

"...It all more than works, in this writer’s view, and more than fits Refuge Theatre Project’s tagline charter—“Under-produced, Under-Appreciated Musical Theatre”."
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Amy Munice

  Hands on a Hardbody Photo Gallery

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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