Anne McAllister went to New York City last week. She’s still recovering . . .
Yes, yes, yes. I know Hugh Jackman has been our Pink Heart Society Male on Monday before. I think he was our first. I just don’t have time to go back and check because I’m writing this right before it goes up on Monday in New Zealand and Fiji and other places far to the west of me. Or east as the case may be.
Doesn’t matter. He could be the PHS’s Male on Monday every week as far as I’m concerned. He’s been mine since back in 1997 when Lucy Gordon and I were sitting in a café in Bath, and I was casting about for inspiration for a book I was going to be doing next. And she said, “You know, you should use that Australian actor who’s playing Curly in Oklahoma in London right now.”
And I rolled my eyes, unable to imagine an Australian playing an Oklahoman in London.
Turns out she was right.
So, Mr Jackman has been on my radar for a long time, and I’ve appreciated him vicariously in various books, including the one I’m currently working on.
But I don’t think I ever appreciated him quite as much as I did last Wednesday when I went to see him on Broadway.
In case you aren’t up on all things Jackman at the moment – and if you are a regular reader of this blog, I find that hard to believe – there is a one-man show, starring Guess Who, currently enjoying Standing Room Only status in New York City.
Called “Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway” it gives those of us who have appreciated his turns as Wolverine and as a song-and-dance man and as an emcee of such things as the Tonys and the Oscars and as a dramatic actor a couple of hours to just bask in his extremely well-rounded talents.
Granted that this show, by virtue of its venue and the lack of cinematic special effects, allows the ‘song-and-dance’ man and the emcee more sway, I suspect those who only know him as Wolverine might also enjoy it. And they’d certainly have their horizons broadened!
We were in the fourth row, so we got a good look at the sweat on his brow as he sang his way through Broadway medleys, tap danced his way through Gene Kelly, and channeled all eight salesmen on the train at the beginning of The Music Man.
We got to enjoy his engagement with the audience, and it isn’t hard to imagine that every show is a bit different depending on who’s there, who he coaxes up on stage, and who he mercifully leaves unsummoned because they would clearly be overwhelmed.
He admits to the self-indulgence of the one-man show. At the same time he so genuinely obviously enjoys what he’s doing that you can only be glad he’s doing it – and regret that he’ll only be doing it for three more weeks. Then he’s off to play Jean Valjean in the big screen musical of Les Miserables. And then Wolverine. Again. Ah, yes. Did I mention he’s got a lot of strings to his bow?
To say that he’s taken Broadway by storm is not really to overstate the matter. I talked to several dozen New Yorkers, many more than a little cynical in their outlook on life – and entertainment. And every single one of them was either gushing because they’d gone to see him and had been blown away, or was regretting that they hadn’t, and now they couldn’t get a ticket.
While most of the reviews have been lavish in their praise and enthusiasm, one, in the LA Times (that west coast bastion of cynicism regarding east coast events) said that it was all well and good, this one man show, but it really was just a very splendid song and dance and witty repartee routine which, while it was entertaining, didn’t allow us to ‘really know’ Hugh Jackman.
Er, well, it is entertainment, isn’t it?
He wasn’t up there to bare his soul or let us in on all the details of his life. He did, in my estimation, communicate some pretty clear details about what matters to him (good Male on Monday stuff).
Briefly, he’s devoted to his wife and his kids, he loves his work, so it really isn’t work at all. He admires and respects his father and his father’s commitment to and love for his family. He has pride for his Australian heritage, and values all the people and cultures who make up that great country.
He is amazed and delighted by the opportunities life has brought his way and he’s open to ‘giving it a go’ whenever he can.
Also, by late last week he (by auctioning off t-shirts he wore in the production and the gold lame Peter Allen belt from his Boy From Oz production segment) had raised over $1,000,000 for Broadway Cares, Equity Fights Aids.
I don’t need to know any more than that.
As far as I’m concerned, he’s a Male on Monday worth celebrating again. And again.
Definitely worth the trip to New York -- even if I hadn’t been able to get a lot of research done as well.
Anne is back with her nose to the grindstone. Her most recent book was the Harlequin Presents Extra, The Night That Changed Everything.
She has another Presents Extra, Savas’s Wildcat, coming sometime in the spring. When she finishes the current book, she’ll take the time to figure out when.