On Jan. 1, Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway will end its 10-week run, and the only thing those lucky enough to have seen it will have left is their souvenir coffee mugs. Actually, that’s not true. The coffee mugs are already sold out. It’s fitting that Jackman closes the show with Peter Allen’s “Once Before I Go,” which includes the lyric “But unless I spread my wings again, I’m afraid I’ll never soar, so hang on to the memories and hold me close once more,” because
that’s exactly what you want to do it’s the memories you take with you. Memories like him making his entrance singing “Oh What a Beautiful Morning'” and your mother letting out an audible, enraptured “Oh” groan heard by at least three rows. I saw the show twice last week. I’ll share my favorite memories if you share yours.
— His strolling entrance really is something, isn’t it? It’s like he knows some people in the audience will need a good 60 seconds to adjust to his presence, tell the grinning person sitting beside them “You should see your face right now,” deal with their own adrenaline rush by punching the arm of that person, and/or remember to breathe. What was your reaction when he walked out?
— Despite there not being a song list in the program, most of the show is the same night-to-night, save, of course, the audience interaction, which is what Jackman does better than anyone. During a steamy rendition of “Fever” in which he rubs his thighs (that memory will keep me warm this winter), he ventures down into the crowd to mix and mingle. Both times I saw him he found a man, dragged there by his wife, to torture onstage. Last Tuesday, it was a guy whose friends insisted he didn’t dance, so just getting him to click along was triumph enough. But on Friday night, it was a man who works in human resources at Home Depot in Atlanta who did a little soft shoe with two of Hugh’s Dream Girls (his backup singers) while Hugh sat next to the man’s wife of 17 years in their seats and cracked jokes like, “Were you upset with his choice of jeans?”
— On Friday night, a man and woman in the front row wore gold sequined jackets, which Hugh naturally had fun with when he began the second act as Peter Allen wearing gold lame. He tried on the man’s jacket, and it fit him like a bolero. He knew he wouldn’t be able to get it off himself, so he came down and had them help him out of it as he shimmied his shoulders. What happened at your show?
— According to my notes, on Friday night, I wanted to lick the vein popping in his neck when he was singing “Don’t Cry Out Loud.” Why would I put that in print (twice)? I was sober that night, unlike on Tuesday when a friend and I had a “pre-soak” before the 7 p.m. show and cocktails afterwards. I thought it would be funny to tape our review. I can’t bring myself to listen to it now, but I remember us discussing how his Peter Allen shirt fit nicely on abs but his Peter Allen pants could have been tighter and how he really should do ladies’ night for charity. And this was before we saw the must-see video of him below giving a bride-to-be a lapdance at a tune-up show in Toronto. (Sure, he starts Act II sitting on the lap of someone in a box seat at every show on Broadway, but there’s not enough room to work it like that, sadly.)
What number drove you wild? When he squatted and did hip circles for an eternity, or just shook his hips at any point really, he got me. I enjoyed staring at his chest when he tied his shirt up for “I Go to Rio.” Watching him tap to “Singin’ in the Rain” was also a turn-on. On Tuesday night, before a showstopping song-and-dance medley paying homage to the movie musicals he loved watching on TV growing up, he had to pause to remove something slippery from his shoe or else, he said, he would end up in the lap of someone in the front row. “Yeah, that wouldn’t be so bad,” a woman said back to him. All in all, the audiences I saw were surprisingly tame and respectful. What’s the rowdiest anyone got at your show?
— Speaking of charity, for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Hugh has been auctioning off the white tank tops he wears each night along with the belt he dons as Allen. On Tuesday night, the tank tops (which come with a meet-and-greet) went for $7,000 each. On Friday night? $25,000 apiece. For $2,000 (Tuesday) or $3,000 (Friday) he would take a photo with you. After seeing him point out Oprah Winfrey in the audience Tuesday night, presumably so everyone could gawk at her during intermission, a part of me thought it might actually be worth it because Hugh is that much of an entertainer, he would make sure you got your money’s worth. (Oh, and yes, it’s for charity.) How much did the tank tops go for at your show?