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Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah: Though the run of the new musical, Hands on a Hardbody, was cut short, the impact of the performance by SUU Theatre Arts alumna Keala Settle was unforgettable. Her remarkable show-stopping work has earned her a 2013 Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She was recently nominated for two additional prestigious theatre honors, the Outer Critics Circle Award and the Drama Desk Award, for her performance in the musical. The Tony Award ceremony will be broadcast on June 9, 2013, on CBS.
Upon hearing the news of her Tony Award nomination, Keala was quoted about her reaction on the theatre web site Playbill Online. “I just got up, and it felt like Christmas Day….It's amazing. It's kind of overwhelming...It's very humbling because I know that we're not open anymore. I also know that the show that we did had a message, and we worked our tail ends off, and just the fact that we got nominations for it—those three nominations (Hands on a Hardbody received three nominations total) that we got—it was just proof that we did have a piece of theatre that said something, that meant something... We're not open, but we told a story, and there are nominations to prove it. Just that alone is enough for me—just incredible.”
The New York Times hailed Keala as “winning, big-voiced” and said that her song “Joy of the Lord” as “a cappella gospel hootenanny, is one of the show’s few out-and-out upbeat songs.” The Hollywood Reporter praised Keala as well, “The standout…is the mighty-lunged Settle’s rousing Hallelujah chorus, ‘Joy of the Lord.’” The Los Angeles Times proclaimed, “Settle's Norma is anything but stoic — especially when she's delivering the rousing ‘Joy of the Lord’ number. But she cuts just as moving a figure, and even the secular will likely find something uplifting in her faith, which is too genuine to depend on answered prayers.”
Inspired by true events, Hands on a Hardbody featured a book by Doug Wright (Pulitzer Prize winner, I Am My Own Wife), lyrics by Amanda Green (Bring it On: The Musical) and music by Trey Anastasio (Phish) and Amanda Green. The musical was based on the acclaimed 1997 documentary of the same name by S.R. Bindler, produced by Kevin Morris and Bindler, and the story centered on ten hard-luck Texans, who participate in contest that requires them to keep at least one hand on a brand-new truck and the last person standing wins the truck.
At SUU, Keala Settle is remembered for her terrific performances in Department of Theatre Arts & Dance productions of South Pacific and Nunsense. After SUU, Keala won praise for her performances as Tracey Turnblad and Bloody Mary in the national tours of the award-winning productions of Hairspray the Musical and the Lincoln Center revival of Rogers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific. Keala made her Broadway debut in the ensemble of the musical adaptation of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in 2011.  
The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, more commonly known informally as the Tony Award, recognizes achievement in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in New York City. The awards are given for Broadway productions and performances. The awards are named after Antoinette Perry, co-founder of the American Theatre Wing.

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