Side-splitting high jinks with Hugh Jackman 

Even without splitting his pants on opening night, Hugh Jackman would be a big hit in The City.

Yet, as he said at the end of his nearly two-hour show at the Curran Theatre on Wednesday, even though everything that could have gone wrong did — he had a great time.

The Australian star of stage and screen and People magazine’s 2008 sexiest man alive simply oozes charisma. He put on a great show, too, with the sum better than  its individual parts.

Backed by a large band and two Broadway-level singers, Jackman crooned, hip-shaked and kibitzed with adoring fans of the musical theater variety (rather than Wolverine of “X Men”) in the sometimes cheesy production, which touched on aspects of his career.

The first glitch came early, when an image of him as a skinny teen never appeared on a screen as he described how Hollywood producers disapprove of this fast-paced live show, which is guaranteed to thwart his efforts to bulk up for the latest “X Men” movie.

The wardrobe malfunction in the next bit resulted from vigorous prancing set to an unwieldy medley of tunes about how he loves being a song-and-dance man.

But he sure gave the audience a thrill when he stripped down to his shorts to change after his wardrobe lady named Nancy emerged from the wings with a fresh pair of pants.

While pleasant, Jackson’s vocals weren’t showstoppers, but his easy banter and rapport with the audience make for the stuff of stars. He chatted with a 7-year-old in the front row, joked with Jan Wahl (whose hat came off), teased some good-natured men about their bad dancing and reveled when a fan threw handcuffs onstage.  

On a more serious note — even though the evening was dominated by fun cheap laughs and Jackman’s killer smile — he sang Billy Bigelow’s seven-plus minute “Soliloquy” from “Carousel” (that’s “heavy musical theater” he said); “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” from “Oklahoma!” and Peter Allen’s “Tenterfield Saddler,” an Australian song.

Aboriginal musicians playing didgeridoos got a moment in the spotlight in a number that segued into a moving version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Decked out in an open, glittery shirt after a planned costume change, Jackman performed numbers from “The Boy from Oz,” the show for which he won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Allen, the flamboyant Australian songwriter.

He showed clips from some of his films, and sang songs from movies, like the theme from “Arthur,” “As Time Goes By,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Stayin’ Alive,” “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.”

Pop paradise continued when guest star Richard Marx joined him for a sing-along rendition of 1989’s “Right Here Waiting” before the evening closed, as Jackman left the crowd in musical theater heaven with the perfectly weepy “Once Before I Go.”

THEATER REVIEW

Hugh Jackman in Performance


Where:
Curran Theatre, 445 Geary St., San Francisco

When:
8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays; closes May 15

Tickets:
$40 to $250

Contact: (888) 746-1799 or www.shnsf.com

About The Author

Leslie Katz

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