Christy Johnson of HANDS ON A HARD BODY at the Minneapolis Musical Theater

Hands on a Hardbody is a regional premiere performed by the Minneapolis Musical Theater and is presented in the Luther Cadillac showroom in Roseville.

For 10 unlucky Texans, a new breath is so close they can touch it. Under a scorching sun for days, armed with nothing but hope, humor and ambition, they will fight to keep at least one hand on a brand new truck in order to win it. In the hilarious and cutthroat contest that is Hands on a Hardbody only one winner can walk away with the American Dream. Based on real events from the acclaimed 1997 documentary of the same name by SR Bindler, produced by Kevin Morris and Bindler.

We speak with Christy Johnson who plays Norma Valverde in the production.

What’s it like to perform in front of an audience and have live theater again?

A few words to describe my feelings of excitement, nervousness and euphoria at the same time. I love performing in front of a live audience. The pandemic has caused us to put structures in place to make the experience comfortable for everyone. The Minneapolis Musical Theater has done a marvelous job of keeping the cast, crew and audience safe.

How does this role compare to other roles you have played?

This role is the one I identify with the most. Also, it was the most difficult. Most of the characters I’ve played are fictional. Since Norma is based on someone from real life, I wanted to portray her as authentically as possible. Norma’s driving force in her life is her faith and she expresses herself through music. My family roots are strong in faith, and it has been a pleasure to play a character who expresses herself in the same way.

What were your character development processes like?

Whenever I develop a character, I start with their past. I want to understand who they are and what got them to where they are today. During the rehearsal process, I understand what is at stake for my character. The stakes help me drive my motivations throughout the show. Additionally, I will have conversations with other actors throughout the rehearsal process. My favorite part of my character development happens when we have to be memorized. It allows me to let go of my inhibitions and be present in the moment.

Did you have any difficulties with your character or the production?

The biggest challenges have been the music. This show has many different styles of musical genres. The harmonies are spectacular throughout the show but they keep us spellbound.

The production challenges were working with the truck. Blocking was tricky, but we found creative ways to make it work. All while keeping one hand on the truck!

Do you have a favorite moment on the show?

Most of my favorite moments happen during the second half of the show. I enjoy listening to each character as they discover more about themselves. The

Do you have a favorite song on the show?

Joy of the Lord. The song takes me back to my gospel roots.

How was the work with the casting and the creative production?

Working with this cast has been phenomenal. Sarah created a world of inclusivity while helping us discover new depths within our character. Abbi has created some super fun choreography to learn. The creative team was kind, understanding, and thoughtful in their approach to the piece. The cast was simply amazing. Each brings new life to their characters on stage. I’m honored to be part of the cast and to share the stage with such talented people.

What is your favorite musical?

Les Miserables, the waitress and the color purple

What’s your favorite musical song to sing?

They Just Keep Moving The Line from SMASH Cast or All that Jazz from Chicago

Do you have another dream role?

Sarah in Ragtime

Favorite local spots?

I love Red Wagon Pizza – their pizza and old fashions are delicious. Sea Salt Eatery is my favorite summer restaurant. This seafood restaurant is right next to Minnehaha Falls and I love their catfish po’boy. My other favorite spot would be Lake Harriet anytime of the year. The views around the lake are stunning!

Thank you very much Christy!

For more information on shows and tickets, click here

Photo courtesy of the Minneapolis Musical Theater

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