|HUGH JACKMAN, BACK ON BROADWAY|
Hugh Jackman's the perfect party host. He loves to entertain, and wants to make sure everyone's having as splendid a time as he is. That includes his 1,200 "guests" at the Broadhurst Theatre, where the Australian heartthrob is wowing adoring audiences in Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway. His return to musical theater, after earning a Tony Award for playing entertainer Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz in 2004, is a dazzling, eclectic, high-energy song-and-dance fest that demonstrates why Jackman live is only slightly less addictive than cocaine.
He may not have the most mellifluous singing voice, but when he's not making a movie in Wolverine's claws, Jackman can bounce around a Broadway stage with the buoyancy of someone half his age, which is 43. Much of Back on Broadway is an assembly of his greatest-hits moments—a montage from The Boy From Oz, songs from Oklahoma! and Carousel, and the "One Night Only" number he performed as host of the Tony Awards.
There's a lot to love about Jackman. Besides being incredibly handsome, he's decidedly old school. No souped-up orchestrations to make his music sound more contemporary. He lets his heart and voice and legs carry him through songs from old movie musicals like "Singin' in the Rain," "Luck Be a Lady" and "I Got Rhythm"—imagine the movie career he could have had if he'd been born a few decades earlier.
And he's not shy about interacting with his audience, whom he truly seems to get a kick out of. Pausing after his opening number so that latecomers could take their seats, Jackman was all smiles as he told a woman, "Glad you didn't rush through dinner to get here." Later, an audience member joined him onstage, and he nearly gave two women a heart attack when he made his Act II entrance, attired in glittery gold clothing as Peter Allen, into their box. As if all this frivolity weren't enough, there are some philosophical lessons to boot: Jackman approaches life's challenges with an "I'll have a go" attitude. It might not land us all on Broadway, but it couldn't hurt to try to follow suit.
By DIANE SNYDER
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