Saturday, December 03, 2011

Not Wacko Jacko


I can't find my Playbill anymore and that is frustrating because I wanted to write down a lot about Thursday's amazing performance of Hugh Jackman - Back on Broadway. But let's just take a minute and marvel at the picture up there, shall we? Ahhh, that's better.

Hugh's show has a 10-week run at The Broadhurst Theater, which is a beautiful venue completed in 1918 that sits across the street from the iconic Sardi's restaurant. It's fair to say that I was in a magnificently bad mood on Thursday evening, and not being able to find a seat at any bar near the theater really annoyed me. I wanted to just sit somewhere, have a pre-theater drink, and try and prepare for an event that I was managing on Friday. But instead, I ended up walking the streets, blocks out of my way, feeling more and more like Joseph and Mary. No room at any inn. So I threw in the towel and wandered back to the theater to wait for K.

On the plan, our seats looked like they were in the nosebleed section. Three rows from the back or something. And I had resisted buying tickets for weeks because overall I thought they were just too costly to be worth it. As it was, our way-in-the-back seats were still $100 but I thought that was fair and besides, I really did want that one-night only chance to see and hear Hugh tread the boards.

The lights came up and the on-stage band kicked into gear and the show was on. And what a show! Hugh may not be the best singer in the world, but the man is the ultimate showman. He was magnetic on stage and he engaged with the audience, almost flirting with them at times. But best of all, he was himself. His stories were personal, his opinions were his own, and he delighted the audience with songs that meant something to him. He was all energy, all the time. And the audience lapped it all up. As K said to me at one point, "there are a lot of people here having some very intense experiences". At one point, one woman in front of us was sobbing.

I never got to see The Boy From Oz, but I know that confirmed Hugh's showmanship in a lot of people's minds - and it won him the Tony award. So it was fitting that after intermission, Hugh channelled Peter Allen and shimmied across the stage performing a medley of hits from the late songwriter. And then he slowed down a bit and sang my favourite, Tenterfield Saddler. I think K and I were quite grateful he didn't do, I Still Call Australia Home. I think we both would have cried. Stupid QANTAS choir - gets me every time.

My favourite part was the montage of hits from old-time Hollywood musicals. Singing in the Rain, Me and My Girl, Guys & Dolls and many more. It was a high-energy, song and dance number that brought the house down. Hugh never seemed to run out of puff and it was fantastic.

At the end of the show, as often happens on Broadway, Hugh took the stage to ask the audience to donate to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. I love this cause and have donated to them a bunch of times during the year, both at Broadway shows and not. And on World AIDS Day, which it was on Thursday, it was appropriate that Hugh would ask the audience to dig deep and help support the organisation's important work. So he started an auction to sell his sweaty tank tops.

They sold for $10,000 each. Right there on the spot. I couldn't believe it. For an additional $2,000 each, he would sign photographs with audience members and I have an easy time believing he would have made heaps more money off that. The audience was in his hands.

The show was fantastic and I would have no problems seeing it again, or seeing Hugh in pretty much anything else. I'm looking forward to his turn as Jean Valjean in the movie version of Les Miserables (Ann Hathaway besides - - eyeball roll). If nothing else, that role probably gives Hugh lots of opportunities to be grubby and shirtless. And that will sell movie tickets like nobody's business!

1 comment:

Batreg said...

I saw him in Beauty and the Beast in Melbourne years ago and he was amazing. I still can't watch the cartoon version without inappropriately drooling over Gaston ... in a cartoon - it's ok, I'll call the therapist.