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Hugh Jackman, Back On Broadway And Having A Blast

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Hugh Jackman, Back On Broadway And Having A Blast


Hugh Jackman, Back On Broadway And Having A Blast

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Something strange is afoot on Broadway. It's a new one-man show. And here's the strange part: The man is a movie star with a major action franchise. He's also been named People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive. He's hosted the Oscars. And, believe it or not, he loves to tap dance, maybe even with a cane in his hand.

Jeff Lunden reports on the man who can apparently do it all, Hugh Jackman.

JEFF LUNDEN, BYLINE: Hugh Jackman has had one of the most bifurcated showbiz careers imaginable. He leapt to superstardom as the mutton-chopped mutant Wolverine in the "X-Men" series of movies.


HUGH JACKMAN: (as Wolverine) Cyclops, right? You want to get out of my way?

LUNDEN: And won a Tony Award as the gay Australian songwriter and entertainer Peter Allen in "The Boy from Oz."


JACKMAN: (as Peter Allen) (Singing) I am not the boy next door. I don't belong like I did before.

LUNDEN: In fact, Jackman's dual career has become the stuff of parody in a recurring series of sketches starring Andy Samberg on "Saturday Night Live."


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: And now it's time for "The Best of Both Worlds," with your host, Hugh Jackman.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Singing) Get ready to party. Get ready to party...


ANDY SAMBERG: (as Hugh Jackman) Who's ready to party? I'm Hugh Jackman, both the most masculine and the most feminine man in the world.


SAMBERG: (as Hugh Jackman) I'm currently in the new robot boxing film "Real Steel." And also, (Singing) a one-man show on Broadway. Two sides!

LUNDEN: The real Hugh Jackman.

JACKMAN: Two sides!


JACKMAN: You know, I think it's very funny. We do that all the time at my house. We go, two sides!

LUNDEN: "Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway" is a showcase for the 43-year-old Aussie's entertainer side. Jackman was between movies, so he decided to put together a one-man show in the interim.

JACKMAN: And actually, having a gig is what keeps motivating you to practice, do singing lessons every week, keep practicing every day. So I thought, okay, well, this is the time to do it. So I just took the leap.

LUNDEN: In the show, Jackman tells stories from his life and career, interacts with the audience, and gets to indulge in some of his childhood fantasies. He says as a little kid, he'd come home from rugby practice and watch Hollywood movies on TV.

JACKMAN: I remember, Saturday afternoons, I used to just sit down and I just would love all those old, you know, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly. All those great movie musicals, I thought they were brilliant and genius. And that's probably where the dreams began.


JACKMAN: (Singing) There'll be smooth sailing 'cause I'm trimming my sails, in my top hat and my white tie and my tails...

LUNDEN: The show's director and choreographer, Warren Carlyle, says Jackman isn't faking it when he dances.

WARREN CARLYLE: He dances like Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire; he's in that kind of category. He's just like this great leading man who has rhythm and who can really, really move.


JACKMAN: (Singing) Don't ask me where will the day be. The big day may be tonight...

LUNDEN: Jackman says he loses three or four pounds dancing every night.

JACKMAN: We started a week ago; already they've taken my pants in three times.


JACKMAN: (Singing) There's a bright golden haze on the meadow. There's a bright golden haze on the meadow...

LUNDEN: Jackman starts the show with "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," from his breakout role in musical theater as the cowboy Curly in the 1998 revival of "Oklahoma!" at London's National Theatre. This is from that cast recording.


JACKMAN: (Singing) Oh, what a beautiful mornin'. Oh, what a beautiful day. I got a beautiful feelin' everything's going my way...

LUNDEN: While he was performing the show, he got a call to audition for the role of Wolverine in the first "X-Men" movie. Jackman recalls in his show how he read for the part in full cowboy regalia and a perm, between the Wednesday matinee and evening performances of "Oklahoma!" - a story he repeated for me.

JACKMAN: So my agent rang me back and said, they thought it was an interesting take. Maybe next time you audition, you could lose the Southern drawl, a little less cowboy and maybe the perm.


JACKMAN: Or at least put a hat on your head or something.

LUNDEN: And the rest, as they say, is history. Still, Jackman's first love is the stage. In the midst of his meteoric movie career, he took time out to play the flamboyant Peter Allen in the Broadway production of "The Boy from Oz." Jackman says his agent was okay with the decision.

JACKMAN: But there were many others who were saying, Hugh, this is not the time to go to Broadway for 18 months to play Peter Allen in sequins. No.

LUNDEN: In the second act of "Back on Broadway," he performs several of Peter Allen's songs, including this tender ballad.


JACKMAN: (as Peter Allen) (Singing) Time is a traveler, tenterfield saddler turn your head. Ride again, jackeroo. I think I see a kangaroo up ahead...

LUNDEN: Some of the show's most intimate moments feature stories about Jackman's wife, Deb, and their two children. Jackman invited his kids to see his new show, even though they can be his toughest critics.

JACKMAN: I said, guys, I want you to be really honest with me. You know, my feelings won't be hurt. You can say whatever. But I just want to know if you like the show or not. Do you enjoy it?

And my son goes, you know, Dad, I really like it. I said, Oh, great. And my daughter said, I find it a little boring.


JACKMAN: I said, fair enough. You're six, I get it.


JACKMAN: (Singing) And that line forms. It forms on the right, babe. Now that Mack is back in town...

It has been the time of my life. I feel blessed every night. I sometimes pinch myself that I'm getting the chance. It's like ultimate karaoke.

LUNDEN: "Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway" runs through January 1st.

For NPR News, I'm Jeff Lunden in New York.


JACKMAN: (Singing) My boy, Bill, he'll be tall in his top hat and as tough as a tree. Will Bill, like a tree he'll grow with his head held high...

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