Every once in a while there comes a show who’s badness does not completely negate its value or make you wish for a time turner so you can have several hours of your life back. This year, that show was Hands on a Hardbody, a musical that didn’t exactly work, per se, but its valiant attempt at telling a complex story and reaching a new audience was totally worth the endeavor.
Sometimes, if you’re really lucky, that sort-of-bad-but-not-worthless-or-painfully-dreadful show introduces you to an actress you may not have noticed before. Probably because she was never given the opportunity to steal the show from legends like Keith Carradine before, but I digress.
Enter Keala Settle, whose brilliant performance provided Hands on a Hardbody with a much-needed, tangible emotional core–something audience members could reach out and grab hold of (or keep a hand on, as it were)–on the long slog to victory. Settle also had the rare opportunity to create a character of deep, effusive religious faith who was neither preachy nor crazy nor insufferable, which was both unexpected and refreshing.
For those reasons–and the sheer effort it must have taken to fake-laugh herself silly 8 times a week–Keala wins the Tony of My Heart in spades. Can’t wait to see you on the red carpet, girl.
Photo: Jenny Anderson