Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway
There's no getting around it: Hugh Jackman is the ultimate entertainer.
Backed by an 18-piece orchestra and some very attractive back-up singers, he puts the rest of Broadway to shame in his extremely polished and thoroughly enjoyable song-and-dance show. Nay, let's call it a one-man spectacular.
The Aussie star first appeared on Broadway in the 2003 Peter Allen bio musical "The Boy From Oz." Oh sure, the show was corny, but Jackman embraced his character's gleeful flamboyance and shined.
More recently, Jackman returned to Broadway in the 2009 drama "A Steady Rain" alongside Daniel Craig. The most exciting part of that dreary play occurred when Jackman auctioned off his shirt during curtain call.
His new show is essentially a love letter to Broadway, Hollywood musicals and his Australian background. He begins by crooning the opening notes of "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" from offstage and closes the first act with a rich rendition of "Soliloquy" from "Carousel."
He confesses that movie execs are concerned about how his penchant for dancing may affect his macho screen image. Yet he throws caution to the wind, paying tribute to Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, breaking into "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty."
At the top of Act 2, he re-enters in a gold jumpsuit as Peter Allen. After sitting on the laps of audience members sitting in the box seats, he swings back to the stage and does a dazzling medley of Allen's hits.
His sober-minded tribute to the Australian Aborigines, complete with didgeridoo players, could probably have been easily scrapped. But in light of the extreme excitement of the rest of the show, we could all use a breather.
So far as audience participation goes, Jackman invited just one guy to the stage at my performance, but he does chat with those sitting in the front few rows. But no matter where you sit in the Broadhurst Theatre, you will definitely feel Jackman's star power.
If you go: "Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway" plays at the Broadhurst Theatre through Jan. 1. 235 W. 44th St., 212-239-6200, hughjackmanonbroadway.com