Hugh Jackman: The Man. The Music. The Show.
Hugh Jackman, most widely known for playing Wolverine in the X-Men franchise, is more than just a talented actor with a great accent. He’s also an incredible singer, dancer, and overall showman. This year, Jackman is taking his act on a world tour that started in May and will end in mid-October. The show consists of music from Broadway shows (like The Boy From Oz) and film, including The Greatest Showman and Les Misérables. Laughing Man Coffee, a company founded by Jackman and David Steingard, will bring its coffee truck to select cities on the tour. Keep an eye on Laughing Man’s Instagram and Twitter accounts for more information about the truck’s stops. Keala Settle, who starred in The Greatest Showman with Jackman, will appear as a special guest at his New York and California shows.
Jackman opened the show with music from The Greatest Showman, kicking off the night with “The Greatest Show” and “Come Alive,” promising a lively and entertaining night. After briefly talking about his start in acting, he transitioned into “Gaston,” the role he played, from “Beauty and the Beast.” He segued into the song him and his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, had their first dance to at their wedding. The evening took on a slightly different tone, including “You Will Be Found” from Dear Evan Hansen, “Soliloquy,” from Carousel. One of the singers from the chorus was also featured, giving a beautiful performance of “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman. The first portion of the show ended with Les Misérables and was a medley of “Valjean’s Soliloquy,” “I Dreamed A Dream,” and “One Day More,” featuring more incredible singers and providing a last bout of chills before intermission.
After intermission, Jackman went into a section of the show dedicated to The Boy From Oz, a musical about Peter Allen, the role which earned Jackman his Tony award. For a majority of the section, he was in character as Peter Allen, which was a great aspect. He gave us a small taste of what the experience would be of watching the actual musical. We were also able to see how he lost himself in the part, showing off his acting chops. A few songs and another medley later, Jackman broke character to tell us about “Tenterfield Saddler.” He told us some of the story behind the song and the more personal qualities attached to it. He sang while one of the orchestra members played along on guitar.
Following Peter Allen was a very brief interlude while he did an outfit change. Two singers kicked off “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman. After a breathtaking performance, they followed up with a medley of classic songs, during which, Jackman showed off his tap dancing skills. The medley included “Singin’ in the Rain” and “I Got Rhythm,” among others. He also performed “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” slightly more laid-back. The evening came to an end with “From Now On,” from The Greatest Showman, and “Once Before I Go,” from The Boy from Oz. They were the perfect notes to end on, changing some of the lyrics in “Once Before I Go” to include the city’s name, thanking everyone for a great night.
While the entire show was notable, there were a few elements that stood out the most to me. The first was the way Jackman engaged the audience, despite performing in large arena. In between songs he told fun anecdotes that helped him connect to everyone. He cracked jokes that had everyone laughing. He talked about his first performance at Carnegie Hall, and his father’s dedication to make it to the performance. He told us about his wife. He talked about the weird way he is good with numbers, and how much of an impact certain roles and musicals had on him and his career. Hearing him tell those stories helped me connect more with the music as well, especially after learning a little more about why certain songs were important to him. Jackman also responded to people in the crowd who would occasionally shout out that they love him (who doesn’t). During some songs when he walked the full length of the stage, he’d high five the people near the edge, and compliment the few people he noticed wearing outfits inspired by The Greatest Showman.
During a portion of the show dedicated to The Boy from Oz, Jackman, in character, went into the audience and brought a man, Dave, on stage with him. Jackman was playful and entertaining, asking Dave about his wife and his night. Dave happily played along, dancing with Jackman and chatting with him while on stage together. What makes the moment all the more wonderful is that, so far, Jackman has pulled a fan on stage with him at every show, continually giving someone a moment they will never forget.
Another really memorable part of the show was when Jackman and the rest of the chorus performed “A Million Dreams.” I was already excited to hear the song live, as it is one of my favorite tracks from the film. A woman from the chorus started the song, standing near the back of the stage. While she sang, another woman was interpreting the lyrics in sign language along with the singer. As they continued, Jackman and the rest of the company joined in, also incorporating sign language into the performance. It created a more palpable aspect of the song, enhancing the dream-like quality it already included. The song was one of my favorites for the night.
I was also struck by the age range of attendees. Most concerts I have attended have a general age range that people fall within. Jackman’s, however, had children as young as about six or seven-years-old up to people in their seventies. Children who were obvious fans of The Greatest Showman were just as excited as their parents who were more likely to be familiar with Jackman’s older work. Older family members and friends also displayed the same excitement. But no matter the age, everyone’s inner-child came out when Jackman stepped onto the stage.
As a long time fan of Hugh Jackman, the show was everything I hoped for and more. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him sing and dance in a live setting, an opportunity that doesn’t come around often. My mom, who initially decided to go only because I asked her (thanks, Mom!), was having a good time. She was excited about our seats and became progressively more excited with me once the show started. When she could, she even sang along to some songs, mostly the throwbacks, but also to a couple of The Greatest Showman tunes (one of maybe four movies she actually likes). Jackman had her laughing along with the rest of us. By the end of the show, we were both smiling and talking about how much fun we had that evening.
Overall, Jackman put on an excellent show. He was full of energy and kept everyone in the arena energetic with him. It was easy to tell that he was enjoying himself, which in turn made the night all the more enjoyable. Of the several concerts I have attended, Jackman’s easily takes the cake. I loved the variety of songs he played, most of them songs from previous roles in his career. I loved his humor and his charm. He expressed his gratitude and appreciation multiple times throughout the night. He connected great with the crowd, kept us engaged, kept us dancing, and ensured we were having a good time. It truly was the greatest show.