×

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.

More Legit

  • The American Clock review

    London Theater Review: 'The American Clock'

    Time is money. Money is time. Both come unstuck in “The American Clock.” Arthur Miller’s kaleidoscopic account of the Great Depression, part autobiography, part social history, crawls through the decade after the Wall Street crash, dishing up snapshots of daily life. In the Old Vic’s classy revival, director Rachel Chavkin (“Hadestown”) tunes into the play’s [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Off Broadway Review: Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Sea Wall/A Life'

    Comfy? Okay, let’s talk Death: sudden death, painful death, lingering death, accidental death, and whatever other kinds of death happen to come into the receptive minds of playwrights Simon Stephens (“Sea Wall”) and Nick Payne (“A Life”). The writing in these separate monologues — playing together on a double bill at the Public Theater — [...]

  • Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    With an HBO documentary that places strong allegations of abuse against Michael Jackson premiering in two weeks, the late singer’s estate announced Thursday that it’s canceling a scheduled Chicago test run of a jukebox musical about him. The estate and its producing partner in the musical, Columbia Live Stage, said that they’re setting their sights on going [...]

  • All About Eve review

    West End Review: Gillian Anderson and Lily James in 'All About Eve'

    To adapt a crass old adage: it’s “All About Eve,” not “All About Steve.” Stripping Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s sharp-witted screenplay about a waning theater star of its period trappings, Ivo van Hove’s stage adaptation fine-tunes its feminism for our own sexist age — image-obsessed, anti-aging, the time of Time’s Up. Rather than blaming Lily James’ [...]

  • Adam Shankman

    Listen: Why Adam Shankman Directs Every Movie Like It's a Musical

    Director Adam Shankman’s latest movie, the Taraji P. Henson comedy “What Men Want,” isn’t a musical. But as one of Hollywood’s top director-choreographers of musicals and musical sequences, he approaches even non-musicals with a sense of tempo. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “When I read a script, it processes in my head like a [...]

  • Matthew Bourne's 'Cinderella' Review

    L.A. Theater Review: Matthew Bourne's 'Cinderella'

    How much can you change “Cinderella” before it is no longer “Cinderella”? In the case of choreography maestro Matthew Bourne — who, it should be said, first unveiled his spin on the classic folk tale some 22 years ago — the music is most certainly “Cinderella” (Prokofiev’s 1945 score, to be exact), but the plot [...]

  • 'Pinter Seven' Review: Martin Freeman Stars

    West End Review: 'Pinter Seven' Starring Martin Freeman

    “Pinter at the Pinter” has been an education — a crash course in Britain’s greatest post-war playwright. Director-producer Jamie Lloyd’s star-studded, six-month sprint through Harold Pinter’s short plays and sketches has been exquisitely curated and consistently revelatory. Not only has Lloyd tuned audiences into the writer’s technique, his unconventional groupings have exposed a load of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content