Casualty of War…Hands on a Hardbody Couldn’t Hold On

Springtime on Broadway is a fast and furious time for openings of new shows.  Competition is fierce and there’re bound to be casualties.  This year, the first to fall was Hands on a Hardbody, a musical based on a documentary of the same name.  In fact, the April 13 closing gave Hands on a Hardbody a new, unfortunate title, “Fastest-closing musical of this season.”  This homegrown musical with is rock and roll score did get fair reviews, but the kind words from critics weren’t enough to fill the seats.  I also thought the musical had potential, yet after only 56 performances the lights of the Brooks Atkinson Theatre will be dark until another production takes the stage.  So what went wrong for Hands on a Hardbody?  Here are a few “non-conspiracy” theories F.A.M.E NYC has come up with…

  1.  The Tony’s Race – The 2012-2013 season ends on April 25.  Spring and fall are always major seasons for Broadway, but the reason why there is an overabundance of shows opening in March and April is to secure the opportunity for consideration for this year’s Tony Awards.  With so many shows opening, the little musical that could didn’t have enough selling power to get past Broadway’s spring frenzy to make it to the summer months when Broadway has an extremely light opening schedule. 
  2. Musical Smackdown – This season Broadway had several musicals going head to head for supremacy.  Musicals like Matilda, Motown the Musical, Jekyll & Hyde, Kinky Boots and Cinderella all have audiences they cater to.  Cinderella is a family-friendly show that will draw from the same audiences that have enjoyed Wicked, The Lion King or Mary Poppins.  Who doesn’t love the music of Motown?  The musical simply just has to use the massive power of its overwhelming catalog to fill seats.  Similar to Hands on a Hardbody, Kinky Boots is based on a true story that audiences may be unfamiliar with but the score from Kinky Boots is all the rage.  Jekyll & Hyde and Pippin already have a loyal fan base, and these revivals will rely on heavily on its fans to compete.   Broadway already has its breakout musical for this season with Matilda, with such heavy competition; Hands on a Hardbody would’ve needed a miracle to survive.
  3. Star Power – Tom Hanks, Bette Midler, Deborah Cox, Constantine Maroulis, Cyndi Lauper, Nathan Lane, Ben Foster, Alec Baldwin, Alan Cumming…need I list more?  Broadway is definitely seeing stars this season.  With the exception of Keith Carradine, Hands on a Hardbody was devoid of recognizable actors. Although I rather enjoyed the ensemble cast, Broadway is a business and stars equal ticket sales.

As Hands on a Hardbody shuffles to the Broadway graveyard, I would also like to make mention of its timing.  What this show suffered from most was the time in which it opened.  Instead of trying to battle for a nomination slot in this year’s Tony Awards, it should’ve waited and opened in the summer.  But you know what they say…should’ve, could’ve would’ve.

Although it’s a moot point, to see what F.A.M.E NYC thought of the show, click


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