Hug a theater nerd, readers. It’s officially the week of the 2014 Tony Awards, and we’re celebrating with some Broadway-centric posts.
On Sunday, June 8 at 8PM EST, the curtain will rise on the 68th annual Tony ceremony. And I AM EXCITE, because our emcee for the night isn’t a pale, omnisexual German, but past host, two-time winner, and cute-butt-haver Hugh Jackman!
Hugh is the quintessential Renaissance man, as at home jazz-walking across the stage at Radio City as he is ripping extras to shreds with adamantium claws. But it’s song-and-dance man Hugh who will always be my personal favorite. This year, he’s taking the reins back from Neil Patrick Harris, who – don’t worry – isn’t trapped under a car or anything. NPH is on Broadway himself, starring in Hedwig and the Angry Inch and most likely collecting a Lead Actor trophy in a few days. And though both boys can carry a show on their shoulders without breaking a sweat, they do have their own styles. NPH adds a dash of irony, while Hugh is all enthusiasm and sincerity. He’s never been afraid to look silly. He’s never shied away from corny. Share your unsolicited opinion about his sexual orientation if you must; he’ll dance circles around you while you do. And he still seems in awe of Broadway, even though he’s taken it by storm. Several times.
While I count down the days till Hugh’s next show-opening medley, let’s relive some of his most fabulous musical moments. Be warned: this kind of joy is highly contagious.
“Not The Boy Next Door” – 2004 Tony Awards
I meaaaan, I can understand why taking the Tonys on again this year would have been tough for Neil Patrick Harris, but let’s not forget that Hugh Jackman fulfilled hosting duties and then some, all while still shaking his maracas eight shows a week as Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz. The term “hardest working man in show business” gets thrown around a lot, but here, it might really apply.
On top of all his other obligations as host, Hugh also performed as Peter for his show’s big number. Let’s pretend that the piano track hadn’t dropped and concentrate on his gold lamé pants, undulating hips, and calling out of Matthew Broderick as “bi-coastal.” (HELLO.) Every night in TBFO, he’d go into 10 minutes of ad-libbing with the crowd. And by the color of Sarah Jessica Parker’s face when he pulls her up on stage, I don’t think she was in the building for rehearsals. But when Hugh wants to dance with you, you say YES. Especially if you’re already dressed like a ballerina.
COME BACK TO BROADWAY, HUGH. In a MUSICAL.
“Surrey With The Fringe On Top” – Royal National Theatre’s Oklahoma
Laurey is already an insufferable character, but you really have to question her judgment with a Curly as cute as this one. I’m still not 100% sure what a surrey even is, but I do know that I’d happily get into one with him.
“Me” – Beauty and the Beast, Original Australian Cast
Beauty and the Beast was the first Disney Theatricals production to take over the world. Obviously a young Hugh Jackman was cast as Gaston, because with a shitty attitude and a bigger ego, he kind of is Gaston. Sadly, no video survives; fortunately, the cast recording and a few incriminating photos do.
French Lipton Ad
Foreign countries get the best commercials. Usually unexplainable and occasionally embarrassing, the overseas ad campaign seems to be an obligatory step for an aspiring American mega-star. Hugh either lucked out or his people are more discerning, since this French iced tea spot is well-produced, cringe-less, and a suitable showcase for one of his many talents. Come to think of it, it’s about time for Hugh to make an appearance on So You Think You Can Dance. Why hasn’t he ever guest-judged? Cat would DIE. Time to make some calls, Nigel.
Opening Number – 2009 Academy Awards
Revisiting this medley, I can’t understand why Hugh Jackman hasn’t repeated as an Oscar host. I’m exhausted just watching this. He step-dances, does the robot, carries Annie Hathaway up to the stage like a damn Disney prince, takes the Academy to task for snubbing The Dark Knight (SHOTS FIRED), and I’m having serious trouble remembering a grander finale than this one:
Did you catch the callback in the intro when he says hello to his old pal, Sarah Jessica? It’s an inside joke five years in the making and only fully appreciated by tiny sliver of the country (Manhattan, gays) who even watches the Tonys.
“Valjean’s Soliloquy” – Les Misérables
Things were looking pretty good in the first twenty minutes or so of Les Mis, what with the impressive scale of “Look Down” and Hugh showing his first solo no mercy. It was a simpler time. Before someone told Russell Crowe he could pull off “Stars.” Before we got so sick of Tom Hooper’s extreme close-ups that we never wanted to see another nostril again. Les Mis famously featured actors singing live rather than synching to a pre-recording track. And Hugh was one of the few members of that cast who not only pulled it off but also used the inevitable and slight imperfections in his delivery to strengthen his performance.
Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway
Hugh just wants to put on a tux and sing all the showtunes, you guys. What a perfect, perfect nerd.
Backers must have been lining up from midtown to Jersey to get in on a all-Hugh Broadway revue. There are few sure things in musical theater, but this show was one of them. Back on Broadway was a blisteringly hot ticket and I’m still bitter that I missed it.
“Right Here Waiting” – Live with Richard Marx
Perhaps you didn’t know that Hugh Jackman is close, personal friends with ’90s balladeer Richard Marx and occasionally drops in to his live shows, but now you do. What a time to be alive.
“Sunset Boulevard” – Sunset Boulevard
Being an Andrew Lloyd Webber joint, Sunset is an acquired taste. Hugh played Joe Gillis in the Austrailian production of the melodrama to end all melodramas and now I’m kind of curious to see him tackle Phantom. Morbidly curious.
2011 Tony Awards Duet with Neil Patrick Harris
Hopefully NPH’s schedule has left him a little time to rehearse a sequel to this charm-off for Sunday’s show. There are so more Broadway duets left for him and Hugh to parody. And so many more Viva Laughlin jabs to make. (A deep cut, even in 2011.)
We’ll be tuned in on Sunday – cocktails in hand – to cheer on Hugh as he returns to the Tonys one more time, with feeling. Will you?