When you think of actor Hugh Jackman, does the image of Wolverine flash into your mind? Then you’re not a musical theater fan! He’s starring in the latest production of The Music Man in New York. The show’s been hotly anticipated all through the Covid months. Finally opening in late 2021, it’s been doing a roaring trade on Broadway since.
This show was a hit when it opened in 1957, and has been a standard in the musical theater repertoire ever since, constantly restaged in regional and high school productions. So when we sat down to see this latest Broadway revival it was like visiting St. Paul’s in London or the Sistine Chapel in Rome. This is a major cultural monument.
But this isn’t a monument that demands reverence. The proper response is foot-stomping, hooting applause. There’s not a peppier score on the boards, and this production is loaded with dance. Hugh Jackman is your classic triple threat — he can act, he can sing, he can dance! It’s absolutely convincing that he can charm the entire town of River City, Iowa into investing in band uniforms and instruments. He had an entire packed theater in the palm of his hand, after all.
And there’s an energy about the show, in every production this season. Everyone’s delighted to be back in an audience. We all had to wear masks, but it was worth it. Truly, there is no substitute for live theater.