Hugh Jackman calls his world arena tour "The Man. The Music. The Show." Emphasis on the man.
In the nearly three-hour extravaganza Jackman brought to Madison Square Garden Friday night (with two more shows on Saturday), he served notice that his casting in "The Greatest Showman" was no fluke. Showing no signs of fatigue from a global tour that's been going nonstop since May, he captivated the audience with song-and-dance numbers, along with some lovely, intimate moments sharing stories about his life. But first, a warning: "I hope you’re not only Wolverine fans," said the "X-Men" star. "It might be a long night."
"I’m at Madison Square Garden living out my 9-year-old dream," he told the audience. Decked out in Tom Ford, Jackman interspersed big musical numbers — opening with "The Greatest Show," accompanied by full orchestra and dance troupe — with “things you don’t know about me." Making the most of his time in Manhattan, he called onstage songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul to join in on "Showman's" huge hit "This Is Me," sung by a barefoot Keala Settle, the announced guest star, who has been performing frequently with the tour that started in Europe before moving to North America. (After dates in Australia late summer, it will return to the United States, including a stop at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale on Oct. 5.)
The show leans heavily on Broadway, with a rousing "Gaston" from "Beauty and the Beast," an emotional "Soliloquy" from "Carousel" and a trio of songs from "Les Miserables." Most moving was "You Will Be Found," the inspirational anthem from "Dear Evan Hansen," a show Jackman said he’s seen three times. It started out simply with Jackman, recalling his vulnerable youth, accompanying himself on the piano. But he was eventually joined for a big finish by members of the New York City Gay Men's Chorus. "It's such an honor to have you guys on stage," he said, "especially on Pride weekend."
Jackman devoted the opening of the second act to the Peter Allen musical "The Boy from Oz," the 2003 show for which he wona best actor Tony Award. Playing the set as fellow Aussie Allen, Jackman flirted with the audience while running through "Arthur's Theme," "Don't Cry Out Loud" and "I Go to Rio." Then he showed off the dance lessons he took as a kid in songs from movie musicals, including Gene Kelly's iconic "Singin' in the Rain."
Among the evening's most touching moments: "Over the Rainbow," performed with a group of Aboriginal musicians, allowing Jackman to talk about his philanthropic work on behalf of the indigenous people of his homeland. It turned into a bit of a singalong where I was sitting, but no one seemed to mind.
Exclusive subscription offer
Newsday covers the stories that matter most to Long Islanders. We dig deep to uncover the facts, hold the powerful in check and keep a watchful eye on Long Island.
Your digital subscription, starting at $1, supports local journalism vital to the community.SUBSCRIBE NOW