Hugh Jackman: Broadway to Oz (Dainty Group)
Brisbane Entertainment Centre
December 5 – 6
Australians adore Hugh Jackman and his new concert “Hugh Jackman: Broadway to Oz” shows why. Those who know him only as X-Men’s ripped mutant Wolverine with retractable claws may, he notes, be in for a long night, for before all of that, the now superstar actor was a Tony Award winning musical theatre star, which is what the concert serves to showcase.
Jackman is a consummate performer whose energy never wanes, from the moment he is literally catapulted on stage to sing the opening number ‘Forever for You’. And when he embarks on a medley of Broadway standards, he shows what a multi-talented performer he is, tapping his way through a lively ‘Singin’ in the Rain’. Indeed, dance numbers are a real highlight, full of jazz hands and booty shaking. And the man can sing, as seen in the show’s “Les Miserables” mega-mix, the film version of which secured him an Academy Award nomination.
Musical choices suit the accompanying, accomplished orchestra of 35 musicians with numbers such as ‘L-O-V-E’ and ‘Just the Way You Look Tonight’ (crooned in dedication to wife Deborra-Lee Furness). Tribute is also paid to Jackman’s father through dedication of Billy’s ‘Soliloquy’ on impending fatherhood from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Carousel” and some genuinely touching stories. Through such anecdotes, Jackman shows a wonderful talent for telling a tale. And humour sits comfortably within his industry stories of career turning points and important phone calls, including some noted name-dropping.
During Act One, Jackman is often alone on stage, however, when he is joined, it is to effect in the rousing ‘This Is Me’ from the upcoming (2017) movie “The Greatest Showman on Earth’, the story of P.T. Barnum, founder of the circus that became the famous traveling Ringling Bros, where he declares his mantra that differences should be celebrated not shamed.
When Jackman literally flies back into the arena for Act Two it is as Peter Allen, in recreation of the Broadway bio-show “The Boy from Oz” for which he won that Tony. The highlight medley of iconic Allen tunes culminates in a joyful ‘I Go To Rio’ and is reprised with a moving, anthemic ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ later in the show.
Jackman’s love of the country is clear. From the lighter notes of ‘I’ve Been Everywhere’ in Act One, the second Act develops with discussion of his life-changing outback experiences, in his youth and on the set of Baz Luhrmann’s “Australia”, which broaden into a moving crossover between musical theatre and Indigenous song and dance from the indigenous collective Nomad Two Worlds, an art project designed to forge reconciliation though culture. The move from didjeridoo backing to a quiet rendition of ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ is faultless and beautiful, thanks also to its bush scenery backdrop images.
Jackman’s self-admitted ‘I’ll have a go’ mantra means that he can sing, act and dance with the best of them. Whether stripped back or dripping with razzle dazzle, glitter camp, each number is infectiously joyous thanks to his musical talent, easy charm and a natural likeability that can foster an intimate rapport with a 10 000 strong audience. When it comes to showmen, you don’t get much showier than the Jackman of “From Broadway to Oz” and Australian musical audiences are surely glad to have the show and the man back on home soil.
Photos c/o – https://www.facebook.com/DaintyGroupInternational