Hugh, Yeah!

hugh jackman outside his theatre on Broadway 2011
Hugh Jackman outside his theatre on Broadway 2011. Image by Carol Stojanovski

It might have been said before, but you know who is ridiculously attractive? That all-dappered-up, smart suit-wearing, assassin-smiling Hugh Jackman. He is, as the name of his new show goes, Back on Broadway with an 18-piece orchestra and a bevy of strutting dancers to help show off his all-out talent and musical theatre prowess. And showing off he is. Grossing more than $1.2 million in its first week (of previews!), the show has earned a charming $10 million in advance sales which would not doubt be warming the hearts of his producers.

As the temperature drops along the concrete streets of New York to the dreary single digits with the arrival of fall, the buoyancy of Hugh’s all-singing, all-dancing romp has given a nice uptick to  Broadway’s audience numbers. Jackman’s classic demographic doesn’t seem at all perturbed by the This Is Your Life-style set-up which takes audiences on the journey of his life complete with scrapbook photos and childhood stories, as well as an homage to the Peter Allen role that embedded him in the hearts of the theatre community.

So just how does Jackman make perfection so palatable (especially in a city that bites)? Critics never name him the best singer, dancer or actor but they always come to the conclusion that he is the quintessential performer, piled high with charisma and that intangible quality. The New York Times’ notoriously prickly reviewer Ben Brantley declared Jackman the “dream date” in the show despite reservations about the “hokey jokes”. The New York Post challenged audience members to not end up in a “puddle of blissed-out goo” during the show and both made comparisons of Jackman to legends of a bygone era, throwing around names like Sinatra, Garland, Davis and Minnelli. Not to mention crowning him the current King of Broadway.

Jackman’s physicality – tall, strong and agile – has to play a part in his ability to have all sides of the Broadway audience eating out of his hand. The action-hero-meets-Broadway-enigma is a combination that is rarely perfected but Jackman’s genuineness seems to win over even the greatest non-believer (case in point: the investment banker in Row R who thought a theatre date with the statuesque blonde would make him the King of E-Harmony).

hugh jackman on broadway
Hugh Jackman on Broadway Image by Carol Stojanovski

So with all this dreaminess, it’s certainly not easy, nor cheap, to score a ticket to the Jackman extravaganza. The show has an average ticket price of $150 which is no mean feat considering the continuous conversation of recessions, unemployment and defaulting filtering out of Washington and on to the main streets of America. Broadway relies on a vast majority of its audience to come from out-of-town, and in tourist-sensitive times particularly from around its own nation, and the 30-plus shows on the Great White Way are extraordinarily sensitive to the economy (case in point: the sudden shelving of Funny Girl). It’s a testament to Jackman’s flawless public persona that the issue of success or failure has not even been a conversation topic in Broadway circles, although everyone knows that a celebrity name can ring dollar signs with greater ease than for those without a headliner to help mount a musical or play in the current climate.

It’s with this in mind that we pay such homage to the amazing and incredible story of The Book of Mormon, a mega-star new musical that has shown Broadway a thing or two about marketing and audience trends in this day and age. The show is over-sold each night, with ticket prices heading upwards to $450, and even out-selling Hugh (not our Hugh!). Producers chose to continue advertising the show despite rarely having a seat to give away to even the most famous or privileged. The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints significantly increased their ad campaign “I’m A Mormon” to counteract, or take advantage of (depending on your perspective), the nationwide, and indeed worldwide, profile of this year’s unequivocal winner of Best Musical.


  • The sensational and incredible Tony Award Winner Norbert Leo Butz will be back on Broadway soon (thank God!). Butz won the Tony this year for his role in the abbreviated run of Catch Me If You Can (and perhaps more popularly known for his turn in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and had people concerned he might be off the boards for awhile. But no he’s back, early in the new year with Elizabeth Reaser in How I Learned to Drive.


  • If you missed the truly epic saga of Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, this might not mean much but the famed director is suing producers of the $75 million show for her creative contributions.
  • Stephanie J. Block, one of the more revered Elphabas and the woman who brought Liza Minelli to the Broadway stage in Boy From Oz, is taking over from Sutton Foster for a limited time in Anything Goes. Foster, who won the Tony for her portrayal of Reno Sweeney in the show, is a cult favorite here on Broadway so they are big and unenviable shoes that Block must step in to.
  • As an Australian, I can’t help but intimately follow the fortunes of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert on Broadway, particularly with the exquisite on-going performance of Tony Sheldon. It’s hosting between $700,000 and $900,000 a week in grosses at the moment which puts it at about 50 per cent of their potential. Priscilla’s marketing and PR teams are working overdrive on the show with some television coups recently including appearances on Weekend Today and The Rosie Show as well as partnerships and packages such as a Tasti-D-Lite flavour (Divaberry!) and wedding packages created to allow couples to marry, propose or celebrate an anniversary at the show.
  • More to come next time, but Evita is coming to Broadway. With Ricky Martin. So much to talk about there!


Freya Grant

Freya Grant is a New York-based marketing and events manager, working with clients including the New York Yankees, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and the Alzheimer's Association. A former journalist for Sydney's The Daily Telegraph, Freya has also worked at the Sydney Opera House and Kings' Cross charity, The Wayside Chapel. Since moving to New York in 2009, Freya has been fascinated by the marketing and branding trends of Broadway's roster of shows.

Freya Grant

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