UNT musical “Hands on a Hard Body,” running April 26-29, depicts Texans driven to win offbeat competition

Monday, March 26, 2018 - 16:48
The University of North Texas’ Department of Dance and Theatre will present “Hands on a Body,” a musical about 10 people competing to win the pick-up truck they’re holding their hands on, April 26-29 at the University Theater in the RTFP Building. Cast members include Darius Daniels, Somar Khamis and Steve Hernandez. Photos by Amanda Breaz courtesy of Gunn Nissan of Denton.
The University of North Texas’ Department of Dance and Theatre will present “Hands on a Body,” a musical about 10 people competing to win the pick-up truck they’re holding their hands on, April 26-29 at the University Theater in the RTFP Building. Cast members include Darius Daniels, Somar Khamis and Steve Hernandez. Photos by Amanda Breaz courtesy of Gunn Nissan of Denton.

What: “Hands on a Hard Body,” a musical about people in Longview, Texas, competing to win the pick-up truck they’re holding their hands on, presented by the University of North Texas Department of Dance and Theatre.

When: 7:30 p.m. April 26, 27 and 28 (Thursday-Saturday) and 2 p.m. April 29 (Sunday)

Where: University Theater, Radio, Television, Film and Performing Arts Building, 1179 Union Circle, Denton, Texas.

Cost: Tickets cost $10 for students, UNT faculty/staff and senior citizens and $15 for adults. Group rates are available. Audience members can purchase tickets at the box office, which is open from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and one hour before each performance, at the Radio, Television, Film and Performing Arts Building. For more information, call 940-565-2428, email dat-boxoffice@unt.edu or visit the Department of Dance and Theatre online.

More information: Visit UNT’s transportation services website to learn more about parking, including new rules. Patrons have two options for parking:
1.) ADA/handicapped patrons may park directly east of the Radio, Television, Film and Performing Arts Building (RTFP) in Lot 50 in the designated spaces.
2.) Patrons may pay to park through the app ParkMobile in the Union Circle Parking Garage at 350 Welch Street in Denton.

Media: Download images from the play here and here.

 

DENTON (UNT), Texas - A truck may be transportation for many people, but it means much more for the characters of “Hands on a Hard Body.”

The musical, based on a real-life contest in 1995 in Longview, Texas, will be presented at 7:30 p.m. April 26, 27 and 28 (Thursday-Saturday) and 2 p.m. April 29 (Sunday) by the University of North Texas Department of Dance and Theatre.

The musical depicts 10 contestants competing for a truck by placing a hand on it for the longest time. One such contestant is Kelli Mangrum, a 22-year-old who sees it as a way to get out of the small East Texas town.

“I totally understand having something in your life that will be a tool to propel you in the future,” said junior theater education major Abi Oxley, who plays Kelli. “The way she feels about the truck is the way I feel about my education. I’m able to use my education as a tool to create a future for myself.”

For Chris Alvaro, who is fresh out of the Marine Corps, the truck is a way to get back to a normal life with his wife and son, said the actor who plays him, Bennett Frohock.

“I like Chris’s tenacity,” said Frohock, a freshman majoring in theatre and psychology. “He never really gives up. He’s always wanting to try to improve himself.”

Other characters include a former beauty pageant queen, a third-rate DJ and a strong Christian.

Frohock said “Hands” is a versatile show because it tells a lot of different stories simultaneously.

“Everyone has a reason to be there,” Frohock said. “It covers so many subjects and struggles that everyone will have something they can get out of the show.”

The show, directed by Broadway veteran and award-winning director Michael Serrecchia, is based on real-life contestants. The 1995 contest lasted 77 hours and was made into a documentary film two years later.

The musical was written by Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Wright, with music and lyrics by Amanda Green and Trey Anastasio, and was nominated for three Tony Awards in 2013.

The UNT production will feature a truck on the stage and the actors admit they can feel the characters’ challenge.

“We’re trained to use our hands and body,” Oxley said. “We have to be focused on keeping them still and on the truck.”

Frohock noted that his challenge is his character’s stoicism.

“He doesn’t like to show a lot of emotion,” he said. “I have to find the different ways to justify actions.”

Oxley encouraged audiences to come.

“It’s a fun show to watch and it’s rare you get to see a truck on the stage,” Oxley said.  “In two hours, you get to hear 10 people’s lives.”