|Hugh Jackman in SF. |
Photo by Joan Marcus
Hugh Jackman in Performance, May 3-15 at the Curran Theatre, San Francisco.
This was a fun show! Jackman charmed and joked with his adorning audience from beginning to end, gleefully poking fun at the dichotomy of his action hero Hollywood persona and his life-long love of musical theatre. Throughout this entertaining song & dance show, stories and references to Wolverine kept coming up, most humorously a video bit that juxtaposed Wolverine and Peter Allen, and a continuing joke with his “personal trainer” insisting that the studio needed Jackman to bulk up.
While Jackman is a talented performer, the heart of this show seems to found in his interaction with the audience and his personal stories. He laughed and joked and wandered through the first three rows of the audience, cheering on audience members who brought glow sticks, flowers and feather boas. He answered people that called out to him, and remembered people’s names if he had heard them. It was one of the most intimately engaging nights I’ve spent in the theatre for a long time. There was an excellent band, 2 female back-up singers, the “trainer,” and a couple of Australian performers. He even brought the Curran’s stage manager out on stage for a bow.
The show itself mostly worked, the few rough spots were quickly forgotten in the energetic pace of the evening. Jackman has a quick wit and a strong voice; he’s the perfect musical theatre leading man. The show opened, as Oklahoma does, with Jackman off-stage singing Oh What a Beautiful Morning (“There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow…”) and it was easy to visualize him starring in Trevor Nunn’s production of the show. He followed this with some high energy show tunes, and a very funny version of Fever that got a great audience response. There was a movie songs medley that mostly worked, Staying Alive was hysterical and I’ve Had the Time of My Life was great. Then it sort of took a bad turn, as my husband commented, it’s really hard for a man to successfully perform Lady Marmalade. Things picked right back up with a series of Peter Allen numbers and a very funny story about his early role as Salesman #8 in The Music Man (he sang all the parts in the rapid fire opening number of the show himself). Luck be a Lady Tonight was a natural fit. I hope someday to hear him try some Sondheim.
My favorite parts were two ballads Billy Bigelow’s Soliloquy from Carousel (nailed it!) and Peter Allen’s Tenterfield Saddler and a hearfelt tribute to the Australian outback and the aboriginal people that included him singing Israel "IZ" Ka'ano'iKamakawiwo'ole's version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and hope to catch him again on Broadway in the future.