There are movie stars, and there are all-around entertainers. On the evidence of Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway, a Vegas-style one-man show, Hugh Jackman is definitely the latter. Not since Liza Minnelli’s Liza’s at the Palace nearly three years ago have we seen such command of the stage and repertoire by a solo artist. The comparison seems fitting since Jackman’s first appearance on the New York stage was his Tony-winning turn as Minnelli’s late husband, the gay Australian singer-songwriter Peter Allen, in 2003’s The Boy From Oz.
Jackman performs many Allen standards in Back on Broadway, of course, as well as tunes from shows like Oklahoma! and Carousel that he’s done before on stage — backed by a 17-piece band and the occasional use of six slinky high-heeled singer-dancers. Unlike Frank Sinatra or even Harry Connick Jr., Jackman doesn’t reinterpret songs in some fresh new way. His biggest musical departure: adding two didgeridoos to yet another ukulele-backed rendition of ”Over the Rainbow.” But boy, can he sell a song. His crystalline baritone has surprising power and depth, but it’s his relaxed yet commanding charisma that sets him apart. He banters between numbers, delivering self-deprecating quips about his life and career (”Wolverine would make a killing in this town as a mohel”) and mixing it up with the audience (there’s a good reason seats in the first row are reportedly reselling for as much as $1,500).
At one point he even pays homage to one of his clear predecessors: Gene Kelly of Singin’ in the Rain. Like Kelly, Jackman is a song-and-dance man who projects a strongly masculine vibe (even if he unpanderingly appeals to gay men by donning gold lamé for his Allen medley). He’s a first-rate showman with a bounce in his step and a twinkle in his eye. And despite an admirable display of technique, he makes it all look easy. A-
(Tickets: Telecharge.com or 800-432-7250)