Concert spurs Broadway speculation

Hugh Jackman in Concert
(Princess of Wales Theater, Toronto)

The Verdict looks at critical reaction to key productions opening Off Broadway, regionally and abroad that appear likely candidates for further life on Broadway and/or elsewhere.

Speculation about a Broadway concert stint for Hugh Jackman has once again hit Gotham thanks to the star’s current two-week Toronto engagement for song-and-dance outing “Hugh Jackman in Concert.”

Show, an evening of tunes interspersed with personal recollections, initially bowed in San Francisco earlier this year under the title “Hugh Jackman in Performance,” with the latest round of reviews stemming from its opening Tuesday in Toronto.

It’s no wonder Broadway types are keen to get the thesp back on the Rialto. With a Tony-winning 2003 run in Peter Allen biotuner “The Boy From Oz” followed by a box office-busting 2009 stint with Daniel Craig in play “A Steady Rain,” Jackman has established himself as one of the few bankable Hollywood stars with triple-threat chops.

Broadway remains a possibility for the still-developing concert production, but the thesp’s busy sked juggling film and stage projects reps a major hurdle. A Gotham outing certainly wouldn’t materialize prior to the fall, insiders say, and whether the show would run three weeks or three months remains an open question.

Here’s what Toronto critics said:

• Richard Ouzounian in the Toronto Star gave the show its biggest rave: “Don’t even bother discussing whether or not you should go see ‘Hugh Jackman in Concert,’” he wrote. “Buy your tickets.” Scribe went on to laud the performer’s talent, calling him “absolute wow,” and reserving a positive aside about Jackman’s delivery of the song “Soliloquy” from “Carousel.” In wrapping up, he came right out and advocated for the show’s future life: “This show deserves to go to Broadway,” he wrote.

• In Toronto-based national paper the Globe and Mail, J.D. Considine called the show “endlessly entertaining, and often quite moving.” He, too, singled out Jackman’s perf of “Soliloquy” but noted that other, “less dramatic numbers weren’t quite so successful.” Overall, however, the show and the performer got the thumbs-up. “It’s hard to imagine him ever having a better role,” he opined.

• Less enthusiastic was Robert Cushman in the National Post. “The man has warmth, charm and bags of talent,” he wrote of Jackman, but “there’s still something very forced and insubstantial about ‘Hugh Jackman in Concert.’” He wasn’t a fan of the biographical asides, the audience-participation comedy or a prominent medley, which he said don’t give Jackman the chance to do justice to any of the songs. He was another writer to single out “Soliloquy,” but he wasn’t a fan, opining, “The performance is superficial.”

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