Hugh Jackman signs on to mystify audiences as ‘Houdini’

Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman is coming back to Broadway, backed by the creative team of the century!

Houdini is a musical that will center on the life and death of 1800s magician Harry Houdini. No further information about the plot has been released since the show is still in development, however the musical is on track to open sometime during the 2013/2014 season.

Stephen Schwartz, who is famous for penning the classic music of Wicked and Pippin among several others, is composing the score of Houdini. The direction will be under the control of three-time Tony Award winner Jack O’Brien. Scott Sanders will be producing the show along with David Rockwell, who is also designing the sets.

This killer creative machine is going to thrive with what is sure to be a hit, and who would be better to cast as the legend of escape stunts than the charismatic triple threat Hugh Jackman? He made his debut as a magician in the 2006 blockbuster The Prestige (not to mention that this isn’t Stephen Schwartz’s first mystic rodeo either, having written the music and lyrics of Broadway’s 1974 spectacle The Magic Show). Jackman has since has starred in films such as Les Miserables and of course the X-Men movies, which has made him almost universally synonymous with Wolverine.

Jackman was last seen on Broadway in his concert series Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway, which played 79 performances (including previews) at the Broadhurst Theatre. This was during the 2011/2012 season.

Yet prior to that, Jackman hasn’t appeared in a stage musical since The Boy From Oz in 2003, which was all about the life and career of celebrated singer/songwriter Peter Allen. It seems only appropriate for Jackman to make his return to the stage as yet another famous figure however, this time, it’s a historical one. Throughout theatre history, there have been numerous examples of musicals that have used a real person (or a group of people) as the focal points of the pieces. These have included the likes of politics, entertainers, and even criminals.

Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow lived as outlaws on the run during the Great Depression era. They became infamous through the crimes they committed and by Bonnie’s alluring looks that attracted the media’s attention at the time. A musical was written about them long after their legacies ended with music by Frank Wildhorn and lyrics by Don Black. It opened on Broadway in 2011, and this production of Bonnie and Clyde managed to scoop up two Tony Award nominations for Best Original Score and Best Leading Actress in a Musical (Laura Osnes). She and Jeremy Jordan definitely made the world remember them in this underrated and loveable production.

A classic piece that everyone knows and loves (which was revived just last season) contains one of the most fascinating, controversial, and incomparable historical figures of all time: Eva Peron. Evita first opened on Broadway in 1979 starring the perfectly cast Patti LuPone along with the dazzling Mandy Patinkin. The story, narrated by Che (Patinkin) revolves around how Eva Peron ultimately rose to stardom (and power) in Argentina in the 1940s period. The critical acclaim and audience hype this musical received was enough to launch a film adaptation years after its opening in New York starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas. The musical is arguably one of the most revolutionary pieces of theatre in history, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice.

The musical Chaplin (with music and lyrics by Christopher Curtis) was first derived in 2006, when it made its performance debut at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. It has come a long way since then, making its Broadway debut just last year. Rob McClure starred as the title role, and has received an Outer Critics Circle nomination for his performance. The musical circled around the whirlwind of old-fashioned cinema and Charlie Chaplin’s rise to fame. Stage Door Dish correspondent Hayley Hoffman called it “inspiring,” which is the official seal of approval and the question mark at the end of the sentence: “Why on earth did this show close?” However, it is still being recognized as a masterpiece, and it was gone much too soon.

Hopefully Houdini will follow in the tradition of Evita rather than Bonnie and Clyde or Chaplin. With its reliable, hit-making creative team and a star like Jackman, we’re guessing it’s safe to bet Houdini will equal Broadway magic.

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2 Responses

  1. Have you heard something new? This has been in limbo for quite a while.

    • I contacted a few people while writing this for that exact reason! Nothing new yet at all, the show is still in development.