HUGH JACKMAN: Back on Broadway

Written by Lydia Benedict.

So what did you do this weekend?  Me?  I got a kiss from Hugh Jackman.  Well, it was more like a peck on the cheek.  But when it comes to this Australian born actor, I’ll take what I can get.
When I learned earlier this fall that Hugh Jackman was singing and dancing on Broadway, I just had to see the show.  Then Jeff surprised me with tickets for our 23rd anniversary.  And not just any tickets: the seats were right next to the stage.
When the curtains lifted on the Broadhurst Theatre with an 18-piece symphony at the back of the stage, the almost 6’3” Aussie strides onto stage, his tenor voice ringing out:
Oh, what a beautiful morning!
Oh, what a beautiful day!
I’ve got a beautiful feeling
Everything’s going my way.
The audience erupted.  After all, this isn’t just any Broadway performer.  In addition to his ability to sing and dance, this versatile actor reached superhero status as Wolverine in theX-Men films.  However, as Jackman says during the show, he’s more of a romantic.  Amen to that!  I mean, this is the horse-riding, cattle-droving, fox-trotting Australian playing an Australian opposite Nicole Kidman in the epic movie Australia.
So what’s a woman supposed to do when that Australian comes on stage in black dress pants and jacket, with a pale blue shirt?  Well, this woman was like teenager at her first rock concert.  I hooted and clapped with the rest of the women.
But it’s clear that Jackman is a family man when he speaks of meeting his wife and making her happy.  He told us his motto is “Happy wife, happy life.”  He also tells the audience how his then 7-year-old son spent the eight-month Australia shoot with him in the outback.  By day, Jackman worked on the shoot while his son went to school with the Aboriginal children.  By night, father and son would fish together, roast marshmallows, and camp under the stars.  And when Jackman speaks of his father, you can sense his respect and love.  So while he can make a woman’s heart skip a beat, his heart is spoken for.  Sorry ladies.
On the other hand, Jackman put the moves on Jeff as we sat in the front row.  Jackman played the gay man in his Tony award winning Peter Allen role from the Broadway performance of Boy From Oz.  He squatted down at the edge of the stage in front of Jeff, shaking his bootie and flirtatiously said, “You’re jealous, aren’t you?”  If I wasn’t laughing so hard, I would have told Jackman, “He’s not.  But I am.”
But on a more serious note, Jackman sings the touching song about Allen’s life called “Tenterfield Saddler” while sitting quietly on the steps of the stage, accompanied by nothing more than an acoustic guitar.  However, the somber tone is quickly replaced with the upbeat “I Go to Rio” while he and his show girls dance with Mexican rattles in their hands.
Jackman and the show girls sing and dance to a variety of classics.  One minute he’s donning a Fedora and doing Frank Sinatra in Guys and Dolls.  The next minute he’s tap dancing with an umbrella, doing his Fred Astaire impersonation for Singing in the Rain.  Of course, I’m rather partial to “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” which is especially touching when Jackman brings Indigenous Australians onto the stage playing the Didgeridoo and chanting in their native tongue.
In between the singing, dancing, and storytelling, Jackman keeps the audience engaged by joking, interacting, and even bringing people out of their seats and on stage with him.  When people come into the show late, he’s quick to spot-light them—literally—and chides them for taking too long at dinner.  Never mind dinner.   For me, watching Hugh Jackman perform on Broadway was like having my cake and eating it too.   But there’s more.  The icing on the cake was getting a photo after the show with this handsome Australian man who –by the way—is only one year and 28 days older than me.  Not that I’m counting….