Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Hugh Jackman, In Performance”
There are people in this world, people of great maturity and inner strength, who have never fallen victim to that most embarrassing of diseases: the celebrity crush. I have never been, and likely never will be, one of those people. Granted, my crushes have evolved from adolescence; while I still heartily admire actors today, I do not fantasize about Joshua Jackson or Idris Elba or Chris Helmsworth’s abs interrupting my 9th grade biology class and whisking me away from “all this.”
But when I went home this weekend for an impromptu Mother’s Day visit, and was told that we had tickets to see Hugh Jackman sing and dance at the Curran Theater, I did, in fact, plotz.
I’ve never told you about a stage show before, Frank, largely because to capture the magic of live performance is a near-impossible task. (Also, I don’t go to see enough plays.) However, the beauty of what Hugh Jackman did on stage Saturday night is that many elements of it were drawn from his previous work; thus, I can at least give you a bare-bones recap of what happened with a little help from YouTube.
As you know, Frank, Hugh Jackman’s movie star career has taken erratic twists and turns since his breakout role in X-Men, as his talents as an action star are about equally matched with a passion for musical theater. Which we dove into right away, because the show opened with a 10-piece orchestra supporting Mr. Jackman as he entered singing “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'” from Oklahoma.
This was then followed by an overview of the circumstances that left Hugh with the three-month gap in his schedule that allowed this show to exist, with a segue into discussing how the folks at Fox aren’t thrilled with Wolverine’s penchant for musical theater, which in turn segued into a song-and-dance medley he did at the Tonys in 2005.
The 2011 version was expanded, and included a gag with him getting yelled at by the personal trainer who was accompanying him on tour to help him put on muscle, but you’ll still get the gist from the below clip.
And then he sang and danced some more, accompanied by some storytelling, lots of old standards, lots of funny riffing with the audience and a small amount of gyrating backup singers in sparkly dresses. Music choices ranged from Elvis to Rogers and Hammerstein — I’ve never seen Carousel, but now very much want to.
Oh, but for anyone who might be like “wow, musical theater? that’s pretty gay,” that was nothing. No, things didn’t reach ultimate gayness until the extended section where Hugh Jackman reprised his performance of Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz.
Hugh spent a lot of time before and after this bit mentioning that he has a wife who he loves very much. Someone else might crack a joke about it — someone who is not me. Because it’s just so great that we live in a world where one of Hollywood’s biggest action stars also openly busts out these moves, with no shame or self-consciousness. So fucking great, this century.
Around 3:45 of the above clip (from the 2004 Tony Awards), “Peter” hauls Sarah Jessica Parker on stage to do some pelvic thrusts. Audience interaction was a big part of the show on Saturday as well — whether it was mimicking one fanboy who shouted “Wolverine!” or inviting an audience member in the front row up to the stage to sing a bit of “Fever.”
That last bit ended with Hugh Jackman and the guy trying to imitate Tom Cruise’s iconic Bob Seger moment in Risky Business by sliding around the stage in their stocking feet. Hugh went shoeless for another fifteen minutes or so. I love him.
It was a really random show, overall, filled with bad jokes about Barry Bonds’s steriod use (this was in San Francisco, after all), some really lovely singing and the emergence of an Australian motto worth applying to daily life: “Have a go.” This is what Hugh credits for all the random things he’s done — host the Oscars, live with the aboriginals, Swordfish — and perhaps he hasn’t had the most successful career (Swordfish) but he certainly seems to be doing what he loves and happy about it. There are much worse things than that.
Short version, Frank: My crush on Hugh Jackman, now going on 11 years, remains intact. (And those were some BAD Barry Bonds jokes.)