‘Hands On a Hard Body’ musical comes to East Texas for first time

A local contest ended up being the focal point of a documentary, Broadway musicals, and a movie.
Hands on a Hardbody began as a contest in Longview at a Nissan car dealership, and it attracted national attention.
Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 10:44 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Hands on a Hardbody began as a contest in Longview at a Nissan car dealership, and it attracted national attention.

Contestants were willing to go days without sleep for the chance to win a free truck, by keeping their hands on the vehicle for as long as they can, until there was only one person left with their hands on the vehicle.

The contest ended up being the focal point of a documentary, Broadway musicals, and a movie.

“It’s a real honor to do it here and to be the first one to do it in this area,” says Tim Mitchiner, Director of Hands on a Hardbody at Tyler Civic Theater.

This is the first time the musical will be performed in Tyler.

The board of director’s play selection committee voted to put on The Hands On a Hard Body musical.

“Just seeing how they did things how they bought the characters to life how they peeled these people’s life back through the music and through the story itself was just fascinating,” says Mitchiner.

Mitchiner says seeing the musical for the first time in Dallas left a lifelong impact on him.

“I hope to get across a message to help others see how maybe they act their prejudices and their ignorance in the community,” says Olivia Bodiford.

Bodiford plays a character named Cindy Barnes in the musical.

“She has her own issues and ignorances that are really hard to portray, but I know are important for the community,” says Bodiford.

Dwain Hare plays one of the contestants in the musical as well.

“The challenging part is I’m in my late 60s and I’m trying to do choreography and dance around with youngsters who are practically professional dancers,” says Hare.

The show will open Thursday on October 6 and run for three weekends in a row.

“All the contestants go through a lot of soul searching throughout the entire play and some of them come to ... most of them come to a better place they were in the beginning,” Dwain says.

The actual hands on a hardbody contest came to a tragic end in 2005 after an eliminated contestant committed public suicide. The musical does not address this, as its based on the documentary that came out before the tragedy happened.