There's something special about the Barn Theatre in Augusta.

It tends to be a training ground for those who are working their way into "the business" - and maybe that's what attracts stars like Tom Wopat (who is scheduled to star in the Barn's next production in a few weeks) and Kim Zimmer, who have given up part of their summers over the years to entertain southwest Michigan audiences with people who probably remind them of themselves .

The latest from Hollywood to do so is actor/singer Rex Smith, who's been on Broadway, on television and had a top ten hit in 1979 with "You Take My Breath Away."

Street Hawk aired on television in 1985. Photo courtesy Rex Smith-Facebook.
Street Hawk aired on television in 1985. Photo courtesy Rex Smith-Facebook.

"The responsibilities on a stage are the same whether it's Broadway or Augusta, Michigan," Smith said on Friday's "Richard Piet Show" on WBCK. "The aspect of mentorship to enable young get in the huddle with me and 'let's go do a show together,'" he said, is better than standing at a lectern saying "...and then I did...and then I did..."

Smith is starring in Hands on a Hardbody at the Barn now through August 23.

"I told my wife that I think I'm going to be a calmer, better everything after this experience because...I'm in the middle of America in Augusta, Michigan."

Here's what the Barn Theatre says about Hands on a Hardbody:

(Augusta, MI) Truckin’ on to the Barn Theatre stage is Rex Smith starring in HANDS ON A HARDBODY! Playing August 11 - 23. The Barn Theatre School is thrilled to welcome Broadway and Television star Rex Smith to portray J.D. Drew, a “good old boy” in Longview, Texas who decides to compete in an infamous, annual contest in which ten people vie to keep at least one hand on a truck. Under a scorching sun for days on end, armed with nothing but hope, humor and ambition, only the last-man-standing will drive away with the American Dream: a brand new Nissan Hardbody. They hang on as hours turn to days and as the details of their lives emerge in song, with a score that ranges through country and rock, blues and gospel and Latin sounds. The diverse styles in music reflect the melting pot of characters within the show, coming from different ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds. For these ten hard-luck Texans, a new lease on life is so close they can touch it.

Alongside Rex Smith, the cast will feature returning Barn favorites Eric Parker as Benny Perkins, Penelope Alex as Virginia Drew, Charlie King as Don Curtis, Kevin Robert White as Mike Ferris, Brooke Evans as Cindy Barnes, Samantha Rickard as Kelli Mangrum, Michael Tuck as Chris Alvaro, Bethany Edlund as Heather Stovall, and Jamey Grisham as Frank Nugent. The cast also includes second year apprentices Brandon Michaud as Greg Wilhote and Jackie Gubow as Janis Curtis, as well as first year apprentices Cody Stiglich as Jesus Pena, LaRon Hudson as Ronald McCowan, Dani Apple as Norma Valverde, and Alexander Ghattas as Doctor Stokes.

HANDS ON A HARDBODY is based on S.R. Bindler’s odd and wonderful 1997 documentary of the same name, which follows the history of the 20-year-old competition and its tragic discontinuation. It was then adapted into a musical by Pulitzer-winning playwright Doug Wright. With the team of Wright, Amanda Green, and Phish frontman Trey Anastasio the show opened on Broadway in March of 2013.

Performances for HANDS ON A HARDBODY are August 11 - 23, Tuesday through Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 5pm and 8:30pm, and Sunday at 5pm.

The Barn Theatre is located on M-96, west of Augusta. Tickets are $37 for all performances. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express are accepted. Group rates available. The Box Office is open daily 10am-10pm. Click on the Box Office link - Tickets may now be purchased on the internet or on your smart phone via PayPal. To reserve tickets at the Box Office, call today at (269) 731-4121.


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