×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hugh Jackman Exits Brewing Broadway Musical ‘Houdini’

Actor cites scheduling constraints as the reason for leaving a project to which he's been attached for years

Hugh Jackman has stepped away from the upcoming Broadway musical “Houdini,” citing the scheduling demands of developing a new tuner as the cause of his departure from a project to which he’s been attached, both formally and informally, for several years now.

“I have greatly enjoyed the collaborative process on ‘Houdini,'” the actor said in a statement. “Ultimately, though, I wasn’t able to commit to the time this role will require. I have tremendous respect and admiration for the creative team and I wish everyone the best. I know they’re well on their way to making something extraordinary.”

Jackman has already spent a notably long time attached to the project, first announced some five years ago with no stars yet in place and Danny Elfman on board as composer. Since then the creative team has been reshuffled more than once, with Aaron Sorkin on board the project for a bit before the title moved forward with its current creative team, composer Stephen Schwartz (“Wicked”) and book writer David Ives (“Venus in Fur”). Jack O’Brien (“Hairspray,” “The Coast of Utopia”) directs.

Jackman, who has periodically made B.O.-busting pit stops on Broadway (“The Boy from Oz,” “A Steady Rain,” “Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway”) despite a busy film career, was said to be attached, in an unofficial capacity, to “Houdini” essentially since the beginning, and was officially announced for the project a couple of years ago.

Of the actor’s departure, producer Scott Sanders (“After Midnight,” “The Color Purple”) said in a statement, “Hugh has been terrific to have on this part of our journey. We will continue to move forward with our remarkable creative team as they craft this ambitious new musical.”

With Jackman in the lead role, “Houdini” was poised to become a musical juggernaut on the Broadway landscape. Although the thesp’s exit takes the heat down a tick, the brewing tuner will still be closely watched since it’s the latest project from composer Stephen Schwartz, whose last musical, “Wicked,” has been one of the Rialto’s top grossers for a decade now. The current, Tony-winning revival of his 1972 outing “Pippin” also is logging boffo sales.

If there’s a silver lining to Jackman ankling his role, it’s that producers won’t be saddled with a property that would likely be indelibly linked to Jackman in tickeybuyers’ minds, thereby making casting his eventual replacement an enormously difficult task.

Prior to Jackman’s exit, “Houdini” had looked to be on tap for a 2014 premiere. There’s no word yet on whether that timeline still stands, but given the current upheaval, it seems unlikely.

Popular on Variety

More Legit

  • Sam Rockwell and Laurence Fishburne

    Sam Rockwell, Laurence Fishburne Starring in Broadway Revival of 'American Buffalo'

    Laurence Fishburne and Sam Rockwell will star in an upcoming Broadway revival of David Mamet’s “American Buffalo.” The show marks Rockwell’s first appearance on the Great White Way since his 2014 performance in the revival of Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love.” The five-year absence saw him pick up an Oscar for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, [...]

  • Secret Derren Brown review

    Broadway Review: 'Derren Brown: Secret'

    Audiences love to be fooled, whether it’s with clever plotting with a twist, the arrival of an unexpected character or even a charming flimflam man with a British accent. The latter is Derren Brown, and he’s entertaining audiences for a limited run at the Cort Theatre, where he is playing head-scratching mind games and other [...]

  • Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica ParkerNew York

    Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker to Reunite on Broadway for 'Plaza Suite'

    Real-life couple Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker are hitting the Broadway stage again for a reboot of the late Neil Simon’s 1968 play “Plaza Suite.” The staging will mark the Broadway directorial debut of Tony award-winner John Benjamin Hickey. Set in New York City’s Plaza Hotel in Suite 719, “Plaza Suite” is comprised of [...]

  • Derren Brown

    Listen: Derren Brown Spills His Broadway 'Secret'

    Derren Brown has spent a lot of his career performing magic shows on theater stages — but he’ll be the first to tell you that magic usually doesn’t make for great theater. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “If you’re a magician of any sort, you can make stuff happen with a click of your [...]

  • A Very Expensive Poison review

    London Theater Review: 'A Very Expensive Poison'

    Vladimir Putin owes his power to the stage. The president’s closest advisor trained as a theatre director before applying his art to politics, and ran Russia like a staged reality, spinning so many fictions that truth itself began to blur. By scrambling the story and sowing confusion, Putin could exert absolute control. The long-awaited latest [...]

  • Betrayal review Tom Hiddleston

    Broadway Review: 'Betrayal' With Tom Hiddleston

    and Zawe Ashton as a long-married couple and Charlie Cox as the secret lover. Director Jamie Lloyd’s impeccable direction — now on Broadway, after a hot-ticket London run — strips Pinter’s 1978 play to its bare bones: the excruciating examination of the slow death of a marriage.  It’s a daring approach, leaving the characters nowhere [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content