You might think that nothing could cheer you up as much as this gorgeous July weather. Well, you would be wrong. With Hugh Jackman in Concert playing at the Princess of Wales Theatre, the Hollywood actor has basically bottled and sold us two hours of sunshine.
I am going to try very hard to review this show as a professional and not as a red-blooded woman, but it’s going to be tough. Mr. Jackman oozes charm, and he knows it. But more importantly, he has a sense of humour about it. This is a man who can sing the opening riff to Dreamgirls with a straight face, but who also appears sincerely embarrassed when a shirt button pops open, as though half the women in the theatre didn’t buy a ticket specifically hoping to see that happen.
Hugh – can I call him Hugh? – sings and dances his way through Broadway show tunes, pop songs and ballads. Some audiences might think that this is an odd stretch for the man most well-known for an action franchise (I have mixed feelings about the loudest cheers in the Princess of Wales coming at the mention of Wolverine). But musical theatre has long been a part of Jackman’s roots. This is, after all, the Boy From Oz.
He does a bit of Peter Allen from Oz, as well as Billy Bigelow, Sky Masterson and Elvis Presley. By the time he played all eight salesmen from the opening scene of The Music Man, Jackman proved that he has the stamina to carry a one-man show, as well as a very impressive set of pipes.
He’s really good in-between songs too, sharing anecdotes with the audience about those surreal Hollywood moments when Steven Spielberg calls you to host the Oscars. One of the funniest moments on opening night came during a bit of audience interaction with a man whose wife got stuck in the bathroom. Hugh “had a go” with the audience member, as they say down under.
It should be noted that backing Mr. Jackman is a full orchestra, led by Patrick Vaccariello, as well as two female singers, Merle Dandridge and Angel Reda, who I would like to thank for singing one of my favourite songs, Take Me or Leave Me, while Hugh had to change outfits. Near the end of the show, there is a touching tribute to Jackman’s Australian homeland that features didgeridoo players, an aboriginal vocalist and Hugh’s own son, Oscar.
I went to this performance with my friend Lindsay, and when I asked her if there was anything about the show she didn’t enjoy, and she thought for a long moment before saying “Actually no, not that I can think of.” We both agreed that the show, almost two hours without intermission, was so fun that we barely noticed the time pass.
The only weird moment for me came when Jackman did a tribute to classic movie musicals that started by playing the theme to 20th Century Fox, and then he proceeded to sing songs from movies originally produced by… MGM. (Why no love for the MGM lion?) I would also have liked there to be a song list inside the program, but I got to see Hugh Jackman dance a soft-shoe so I really can’t complain.
– Hugh Jackman in Concert plays until July 17, 2011 at the Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King Street West.
– Show times are Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm, and Saturday and Sunday at 2pm.
– Running time is 95 minutes, with no intermission.
– Ticket prices are from $49 to $130, and are available online or by calling 416-872-1212 or 1-800-461-3333.
Photo of Hugh Jackman, courtesy of mirvish.com