Jackman is a favorite among legit auds and one of the Main Stem’s true box office powerhouses. His upcoming Broadway stint, in Jez Butterworth’s “The River” next season, follows in the wake of B.O.-busting runs in “A Steady Rain” (with Daniel Craig in 2009) and “Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway” (in 2011). His Broadway debut in 2003 outing “The Boy from Oz” earned him a Tony, a yearlong engagement that in many ways was the forerunner of the rising tide of stars to play the Rialto in recent seasons.
For several years, Jackman was attached to the brewing Broadway musical “Houdini” before he opted to drop out due to scheduling constraints. Even when he’s not starring in a show, though, he’s often a fixture in the New York legit industry, showing up on the Tonys in years he’s not hosting and regularly attending theater events around the city. In 2012 he scored a special Tony for his contributions to the Broadway community.
Jackman’s gig at the 2014 Tony ceremony will mark his fourth time as the show’s host, putting him in a tie with Neil Patrick Harris, another Broadway favorite who emceed the kudos 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Although he won’t be hosting, Harris seems likely to show up during this year’s telecast anyway: This spring he toplines the Broadway production of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”
Among showbiz’s nationally televised awards ceremonies, the Tonys telecast holds a certain cache, regularly earning Emmys and other trophies in special class categories. (Jackman himself won an Emmy for hosting the Tonys in 2004.) Still, the annual broadcast often proves ratings-challenged due to a number of factors, including frequent competition from NBA finals. Besides, the newer Broadway fare being honored on the telecast generally hasn’t had a chance to gain a national profile the way longer-running shows (such as “The Lion King” and “Wicked”) have.
This year, however, the coming ceremony looks poised to include a number of shows general audiences around the country will have heard of, because so many of the new spring tuners are tied to big-name properties such as “The Bridges of Madison County,” “Rocky,” “Aladdin” and “Bullets Over Broadway.” A hefty quotient of recognizable actors are also in the mix, with Denzel Washington, Bryan Cranston, Daniel Radcliffe, James Franco, Michael C. Hall and Toni Collette among the well-known thesps lined up for stints on the Main Stem this spring.
The Tony Awards, exec produced by Tony vets Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss of White Cherry Entertainment, are set to air June 8 on CBS, broadcasting live from Radio City Musical Hall. Just before that, Jackman’s next bigscreen outing, “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” hits theaters May 23.