La Jolla Playhouse announces its first production of the 2012/13 season: the world-premiere musical HANDS ON A HARDBODY, written by Pulitzer Prize winner and La Jolla Playhouse 2011 Gala Honoree Doug Wright (I AM MY OWN WIFE), Amanda Green (BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL) and Trey Anastasio of the popular band Phish, with direction by Neil Pepe (SPEED-THE-PLOW) and choreography by Benjamin Millepied ('Black Swan'), running April 27 - June 10, 2012 in the Mandell Weiss Theatre.
The Playhouse commissioned HANDS ON A HARDBODY and further developed it through a series of readings and workshops, as part of the institution's mission to serve as a launching pad for new work.
When an auto dealership in Longview, TX launches an endurance contest, ten economically-strapped strangers embark on a journey that puts their hearts, minds and bodies to the test. The contestant who keeps at least one hand on a brand-new hardbody truck the longest gets to drive it off the lot. What initially seems like a mere publicity stunt soon becomes a soul-baring battle of wills. Only one can win, but for all involved, the truck holds the key to their own private American dream. Based on the documentary film of the same name, HANDS ON A HARDBODY features a brilliant rock, folk and country score from Amanda Green and Trey Anastasio, along with a masterful story by Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Wright, whose work has been showcased at the Playhouse with Creditors and I AM MY OWN WIFE.
"We are ecstatic to launch our new season with a project we've shepherded through the commission, reading and workshop phases and now to a full production on our stage," said Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley. "This thrilling new piece offers a trenchant slice of Americana that explores the most exuberant and most troubling aspects of our competitive spirit."
The nationally acclaimed, Tony Award-winning La Jolla Playhouse is known for its tradition of creating the most exciting and adventurous new work in regional theatre. Founded in 1947 by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer, the Playhouse is considered one of the most well-respected not-for-profit theatres in the country. Numerous Playhouse productions have moved to Broadway, including BIG RIVER, THE WHO'S TOMMY, HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, A WALK IN THE WOODS, Billy Crystal's 700 SUNDAYS, the Pulitzer Prize-winning I AM MY OWN WIFE, JERSEY BOYS, THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, THE FARNSWORTH INVENTION, 33 VARIATIONS and the 2010 Tony Award-winning musical MEMPHIS. Located on the UC San Diego campus, La Jolla Playhouse is made up of three primary performance spaces: the Mandell Weiss Theatre, the Mandell Weiss Forum Theatre, and the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center for La Jolla Playhouse, a state-of-the-art theatre complex which features the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre. La Jolla Playhouse is led by Artistic Director Christopher Ashley and Managing Director Michael S. Rosenberg.
Trey Anastasio is a founding member of the GRAMMY®-nominated, genre-melding rock band Phish, which has released 15 studio albums, 75 complete live concert CDs and a series of 186 full concert downloads. Drawing inspiration from experimental jazz, pop, reggae, metal, classical and barbershop music, he has also released eight solo albums and regularly tours with Phish, Trey Anastasio Band and often performs with orchestras around the country.
Amanda Green is currently co-writing the lyrics for BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL (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 FIDELITYon 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 WILDLIFE 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.
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.
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.