Friday, April 12, 2024

Hugh Jackman: Wolverine Goes Disco


Hugh Jackman opened on Broadway last night in his one man show. I caught the Wednesday matinee instead of the usual opening night–had to be away for a family occasion. The matinee crowd loved Hugh. You’ll love Hugh. He is as corny as a cornfield, sort of John Davidson meets Barry Manilow. This isn’t a bad thing to say, but Hugh could play Vegas for months without ever having an empty seat in the theater. Whether he’s in formal attire and tails, or gold lame, Jackman cannot stop smiling broadly. He is happy for two hours, in his element.

It makes you wonder about “Wolverine” and “X Men.” How can he both people? As he says in the show, the song and dance Hugh is his favorite. And give him credit. He sings his heart out to show tunes. There’s nothing fake about it. He belts out his songs, tap dances, sashays into the audience to play with unwitting fans. (Though I do think one woman sitting in the front row is a plant, but that’s ok.)

My favorite part of the show: Jackman brings out Olive Knight an indigenous gospel/blues singer from Wangkatjungka in the Australian outback, with a group of fellow musicians. They perform the Hawaiian version of “Over the Rainbow” using aboriginal instruments, and Jackman talks about the plight of Knight’s people. I wish there’d been more of that and less of the shlocky Peter Allen songs. But Hugh and his crew know what they’re doing–and the audience just loves him.

PS Folks from NBC were in the audience. My bet is we’ll see this as a filmed TV special in February, sweeps month. And why not? The peacock network has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Hugh Jackman as Andy Williams channeling Gene Kelly has a lot of promise.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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