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Perez Reviews: Hands On A Hardbody The Musical

Hands On A Hardbody is Broadway-ready! And it was a special treat to see the new musical, based on the cult documentary, at the lovely La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego. A theater with leg room in the rows! You never get that in NYC!

We went into the show expecting to see a satire, along the lines of Book Of Mormon or Avenue Q. The documentary, after all, is about a group of colorful Texans that try and win a "hard body" truck by seeing who can win a contest to keep their hand on it for as long as possible.

The show could have gone in the direction of camp or mockery, but - instead - we were so pleased to see it be a bittersweet tale of humanity. People doing and trying and hoping and believing. A show with great laughs but also sincerity. It's a show with so much heart!

And at the center of the show's heart are three standout performances from Keala Settle, Hunter Foster and Connie Ray.

Keale Settle easily gives one of THE BEST performances we have ever seen in the theater! And we see lots and lots and lots of shows!!!

This woman was not acting. She was being! Settle so effortlessly embodied her character. She brought an infectious sense of warmth and and passion! And her voice? Wow!

She was a revelation and stole the show!

Hunter was sooooooo good too! That Foster family is just so damn talented!

Hunter played the show's antagonist, but he did it in such a way that his character was so damn likeable. You should have been rooting against him but you were rooting for! He played the arc of his character so beautifully! At the end of the show… just wow!

The man is amazing!

And the mom from The Torkelsons!!! Carly Rae!!! She was giving us some Meryl Streep fierceness!!! We just wish she had a song!

Speaking of songs, the music was written by Trey Anastasio. Yes, the dude from Phish! He and the show's lyricist, Amanda Green, did a fabulous and well-rounded job!

There are some truly beautiful and outstanding musical theater songs, pop songs and country songs in the show!

Kudos to book writer Doug Wright and director Neil Pepe, who both did a great job. Especially great were the many inventive ways they used the truck and made the show feel not claustrophobic.

Hands On A Hard Body is hard not to love and good for your body!

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