HESSTON — "Hands on a Hardbody" is not your average musical, a concept that is being fully embraced by Hesston College professor Rachel Jantzi.
"The music is fantastic," Jantzi said. "It's country, rock, gospel, soul — it's not your traditional Rodgers and Hammerstein."
Based on the documentary of the same name, "Hands on a Hardbody" tells the story of 10 contestants, who each hope to win a truck by being the one to keep a hand on it for the longest time.
"This truck represents freedom, redemption, forgiveness — it represents all sorts of different things to different people and I just think that we all tend to hang our hat on something like that," Jantzi said. "We can identify with at least one character in the show."
Jantzi is directing a cast that includes Hesston College students, faculty and community members.
"(The show) offers the opportunity for a broad cast and for a cast that doesn't all look alike, doesn't all sound alike," Jantzi said. "It offers a bunch of variety so I could cast intergenerationally. I could cast students of color and I could cast all shapes and sizes."
Hesston College student Leah Huyard plays Virginia Drew, who has been married to her husband, a contestant, for 30 years.
"Their story is really the main love story that is intertwined in this story of this contest," Huyard said. "Their story is the one of how love can last a long time and how, even after a long time, you're going to have fights in your marriage and disagreements, but love is what keeps you together. If you love something, put effort into it and keep your hand on it and you'll get through."
"Hands on a Hardbody" relays a story that covered 91 hours in real life.
"It's a really unique show because it's very episodical; there's not a straight storyline, it's the intertwining of every contestant's story," Huyard said.
Jim Yoder, a professor of chemistry at Hesston College, plays Dr. Stokes in "Hands on a Hardbody."
"It is a real slice of human nature," Yoder said. "It's heartwarming in a situation you wouldn't expect."
Several of the musical's cast members are in his classes, Yoder noted, but their relationship as fellow actors gives them a chance to know each other outside of the formal class setting.
"I'm different here; they're different here," Yoder said. "...We're a community, in the classroom and then outside the classroom."
Yoder has participated in shows as at Hesston College since he was a student there.
"I do theater all the time," Yoder said. "I just was born with it. It's in my blood."
While he has an appreciation for music, Yoder said he is happy to let those who have that talent shine in this production.
"It's an honor to be able to be in this and listen to the students who are such gifted performers," Yoder said.
Hesston College Theatre will present five performances of "Hands on a Hardbody," at 7 p.m. Feb. 28 to March 3 and 2 p.m. March 4, at the AGCO Corp Auditorium in the Communication Center, 420 W. Lincoln Boulevard in Hesston.
Tickets for "Hands on a Hardbody" are $10 for adults and $5 for students and children. Tickets can be purchased at the Hesston College Bookstore, by calling 620-327-8104 or by visiting http://books.hesston.edu/home.aspx. Purchasing tickets in advance is recommended. Tickets will be available at the door 45 minutes prior to show time and are subject to availability.