Friday, November 18, 2011

Hugh Jackman: We're All His Lemmings

I was sitting through the first act of Hugh Jackman's one man show when I realized he was so in control of the audience that if he had said everyone strip down to your underwear and walk around Times Square I'd say a good 99.9% of the audience would have done exactly what he said.  People were mesmerized.  If he told them to clap, they'd clap.  If he told them he loved New York, they loved New York--even if they had just spent half the night complaining about New York.  I'm talking Manchurian Candidate here people.  Like he could create an army of robot assassins.  I mean they would probably be song and dance assassins but still.

Because I am the 0.1% (not to be confused with the OWS 1%), I was still feeling through the first Act a little immune to Hugh's charms.  Some bad political jokes.  Bits where he was trying too hard.  He's trying  so hard to get everyone to like him (a basketball joke, an Australia joke, a New York joke).  Medleys.  I hate a medley.   I was still sitting in my critical place.  Let's be fair--my name is Mildly Bitter for a reason.  Even Hugh Jackman has a large mountain to climb to impress me.  No free passes for the gorgeous (which he is--I mean yes I am not immune to those charms).

And then he tells a story about his Dad, his playing Carnegie Hall in a night of Richard Rogers music and starts singing Soliloquy from Carousel.  And he got me.  Sucked through the vortex, I am instantly and suddenly charmed.  What struck me was that Hugh Jackman's real talent is not that he can sing and dance.  I mean he can.  He's a stage trooper.  He does a very good job.  But where he shines is in his musical stage acting.  He can sell a song.  He mines it for the emotional center and nails that.  That's his gift.  I think that is why the medleys were so uninteresting to me.  The medleys tried to cram too many songs in and left out the storytelling/performance side.  I'm not a spectacle person.  I love a story.  And after he killed with Soliloquy, Act two was all about storytelling and songs.  Yes, a whole lot of Peter Allen (gold lame trousers that my UK guests were not expecting).  But when he brought the Peter Allen octane down a bit (maracas people, maracas), I found the songs that he performed to be very moving.

The whole evening left me wondering, why the hell isn't he just doing musicals.  I would clearly show up again and pay to see him perform a whole show.  Yes, I know he is going to do the Les Miz movie musical.  Let me just say I am not a fan of modern movie musicals.  I mean if I could find the negative to the movie Chicago I'd burn it.  I hate this shit.  I really do.  It's like they bastardize both media and are unsuccessful for me on both levels.  Maybe I'm a purist.  I like my theater in the theater.  I like my movies to be cinematic.  I don't like my cinema theatrical or my theater cinematic.  I also like my women covered in bees (yeah Eddie Izzard reference--I don't know... it came to mind and underscores the fact that I am being irrational and ridiculous about all of this).  Fine I liked Moulin Rouge.  There is clearly a Baz Luhrmann exception to my rule except I am expecting The Great Gatsby in 3-D to be dreadful.  Why the 3-D people?  So that he can throw his fabulous shirts at the audience?  So the green light of Gatsby's dreams will actually reach out and smack people in the head?  Stop the 3-D madness.

Ok...I've lost a little Hugh focus.  Lemmings or no lemmings, Hugh Jackman makes for a lovely night at the theater and I just wish he'd spend more nights at the theater.  I am sure we'll all enjoy Wolverine 7, but he's a talented stage performer who I'd like to see on stage more.  If you can get a ticket, just go.  You will fall in love with him at some point. 

Also he touched my friend's arm and called her "sweetheart."  Jealous.  I know you are.


  1. Personally, I thought the CHICAGO movie was reminiscent of much of Fosse's cinematic work (e.g. ALL THAT JAZZ).

    On topic.
    Hugh Jackman is a natural on stage, but he's made it a bit too big in Hollywood to become a stage actor full-time.

  2. Bite your tongue baritonepride! All that Jazz is amazing! An incredible cinematic interpretation of theater. Chicago pales...pales in comparison.

    I fully realize I am in the minority with my feelings about Chicago. It's also, at its core, a musical I am not fond of to start with.

    And I don't expect Hugh Jackman to be a full-time stage actor. But just wish he'd make a little time between Wolverine pics for some stage work and I'd rather it be a show than a concert. Though I guess I should be happy with what I get...since I assume it's this concert format or no stage work.