Seemingly strange plots sometimes turn out to be the best theater shows. "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" with music, on stage, shouldn't work, but you have Monty Python's Spamalot, which has been going strong since 2004. Should a musical about two naive missionaries sent to Uganda to convert its residents to Mormonism that boasts an appearance from Hitler do well? Probably not, but The Book of Mormon is the best-selling show on Broadway.
So weird shows have their place in entertainment (let's not forget The Producers, a show about two guys who set out to make the worst musical ever, only to have it be a wild success). Yet sometimes, when you break down the plot to its bare bones, it's impossible not to pause for a moment and think, "Really? Someone thought this would be a hit?" To be fair, this list is not a list of the worst musicals. It is a list of STRANGE musicals... most of which were incredibly successful. And even good. But still strange. Got it?
Hands on a Hardbody
Basic plot: In Texas, 24 people compete to win a car by seeing who can keep their hand on a pickup truck the longest.
Why it's weird: Well, aside from the fact that the contest itself is a bit weird, this is a musical, so there's a lot of singing and dancing... about a truck. Okay, fine, they aren't really singing about the truck, but also, they're kind of singing about the truck, since that's what the whole play is about! The stranger thing is probably that this is based on a real-life event.
How it fared on Broadway: The show debuted in February 23, 2013 and opened nearly a full month later, on March 21. It closed on April 13, afer just 28 previews and 28 performances, but not before receiving 3 Tony Award nominations.
Theater buzz has been a little… slow, to say the least. March is when things start to pick up, and now we’re ever-so-slowly climbing out of the Broadway slump where literally nothing at all happens and makes reporting on theater things a little challenging. But we’re almost there! There’s some Broadway theater news, and there's not one, but two shows that will enter previews the week before March begins. Finally. Here's a run-down of what's going on.
New Broadway previews: Hands on a Hardbody enters previews February 24, and will open March 21. It's a light-hearted play about a group of Southerners competing to win a new truck. In order to get the prize, however, they’ll need to see which of them can keep his or her hand on the truck the longest, as they all stand beneath the sweltering Texas sun. I can’t help but be reminded of those competition reality shows that would take place on MTV’s "Real World/Road Rules" challenges — you know, like, being forced to bungee jump into a lake while wearing a sumo wrestler outfit. (Not an actual challenge that I recall, but close enough.) To top it all off, Hands on a Hardbody is a musical! I like a show that’s not trying to take itself too seriously.