TMR interview: The star of ‘Hands on a Hardbody’ needs an oil change every 15,000 miles. What’s he doing on stage?

Dwight is a truck.

A silver Chevy Colorado pickup truck with a maximum towing capacity of 2,200 pounds, to be exact. Born in 2012, Dwight is an aspiring actor who just got his big break starring in the new Shine! Theatre production of “Hands on a Hardbody.” This heartfelt piece of musical theater – with an extremely unlikely subject – is now in its opening weekend at Shep’s Club in downtown Fresno.

The 2012 Broadway musical is based on an acclaimed 1997 film documentary of the same title that follows a group of contestants through a contest giving away a “hardbody” truck in Longview, Texas. The rules are simple: The last contestant with his or her hands on the truck wins it.

In order to pull off “Hands on a Hardbody,” you’ve gotta have a truck on stage, of course. That’s where Dwight comes in.

Thanks to Shine! artistic director tony sanders, The Munro Review obtained an exclusive interview with Dwight. It was his first media encounter. (Well, there was the time he got his photo on Dwight reached down to the bottom of his 3.7 DOHC 5-cylinder-engine soul and opened up about it all: his hopes, his dreams, his favorite fuel (premium, naturally). He was so excited that when I opened the door of his garage, he gave a little honk.

Q: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Dwight. With the show opening soon, you must be busy.


A: You’re absolutely right. Things have been so crazy I almost forgot to get smogged.

Q: Let’s start off talking about the character you play. The truck being given away in the contest is brand-new, right?

A: He sure is. I was a little worried about being able to play so much younger than me. I haven’t had that new-car smell for a long time. But that’s what acting is all about, right? Besides, people have often said I look young for my age.

Q: Speaking of acting, do you have any experience on stage or screen?

A: Nah. But I’ve always dreamed of show-biz. I once hauled sets for Woodward Shakespeare Festival, which really revved my RPM. And I’ve always dreamed of being a stunt car, to be honest. I’d never thought I’d actually be starring in a Broadway show.

Q: So what got you the part?

A: I like to think it was my poise and confidence at the dealership. My current humans are the kind folks at Hedrick Chevrolet, and one of them took a liking to me. Thanks to them, I got the go-ahead to pursue my theater career.

Q: Besides the age difference, you have another big challenge: having to stay immobile the entire show. I’ve heard actors say that acting without movement is the hardest thing of all because you can only rely on your facial expressions to get the character across. How have you risen to the occasion?

A: I like to think of Winnie in Samuel Beckett’s “Happy Days.” She’s buried up to her neck through all of Act 2, yet she manages to convey such profound philosophical intensity that audiences leave in tears. I’m channeling Winnie.

Q: Your artistic director seems to be pleased. He tells me, “The power of Dwight’s performance is in his stillness. As an actor, I find him incredible to work with. He’s very giving.”

A: Ah, that’s sweet. (Blushes to a dark silver.) He’s the best.

Q: And the director of the show, Jenny Myers, says you have a lovely voice.

A: I’ve been working on my honks.

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Q: Let’s find out a little more about you with a few random personal questions. Rain: Do you love it or hate it?

A: Love it. The only thing I hate is when I don’t get washed afterward.

Q: Bumper stickers: Yes or no?

A: They should be outlawed.

Q: What does it say on your Car Tinder profile?

A: “I love long drives along bumpy mountain trails followed by warm, bubbly washes.”

Q: I know that trucks shouldn’t kiss and tell, but have you ever had a child conceived in your bed?

A: Ha. My previous owner had three teen-agers. Let’s just say that being a truck isn’t for the demure.

Q: I had a chance to see “Hands on a Hardbody” during its very short run on Broadway, and I’ve loved the themes and the music ever since. On one level, it’s a fun and suspenseful story about a clever giveaway. Who’s going to win the car? But there’s something deeper there – about the desperation of living through an economic downturn, about the loss of dignity for the disadvantaged, about the unrelenting, blandifying corporatization of the U.S. One of my favorite songs is titled “Used to Be,” and it’s a lament about how American small towns have lost their individuality thanks to the proliferation of chains. It’s the only refrain I’ve ever heard in a song that goes like this: “Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Wendy’s, Applebee’s … Starbucks, Stuckee’s, Best Buy, Mickey D’s …” What are your thoughts about the sociological insights of this show?

A: Um, sorry, I nodded off and went into idle mode there. I might be a truck that references absurdist Beckett plays, but you can’t expect me to go deep on everything. Hey, could I ask you a favor and clean my side mirror? Drives me crazy when I can’t see behind me.

Q: Sure thing. One more question, Dwight, and it might be a touchy one: You’re a smaller truck, as befits the smallish venue you’re performing in (it’s actually an outside garden area). Do you ever get intimidated by bigger SUVs?

A: Not at all. I’m far more nimble and useful than those big old gas hogs. Besides, I’ve never heard of a Broadway show starring a Chevy Tahoe.

Show info

‘Hands on a Hardbody,’ a Shine! Theatre presentation at Shep’s Place at Shepherd’s Inn, 935 Santa Fe Ave. Continues through June 10. Tickets are $20 general, $15 students.

Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (1)

  • tony sanders

    🤣🤣🤣 Donald! What a fantastic interview! This exchange of existentialism, capitalism, the marginalization of have-nots…with a truck is nothing short of brilliance. I nominate this interview for consideration for your Top 10 Cultural Events. Just saying. Thank you for such an enjoyable read.


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