The Washington Post

Hugh Jackman opens Tonys: ‘Wolverine in tap shoes’ punts

He did bounce!

Viewers tuning in to the Tony Awards tonight on CBS were probably as keyed in to why Hugh Jackman was bouncing in his YouTube video tease as to what would win best musical. And in fact, the telecast opened with Jackman outside the stage door of Radio City Music Hall, where he began hopping through an entire musical number, a la Bobby Van in the 1953 film “Small Town Girl.”

So that was the shtick, and it felt a little like a pole-sitting stunt. Jackman hopped into the theater, on stage, then backstage past Sting (who has a musical coming next season) and cast members of nominated musicals — “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” “After Midnight,” “Rocky,” etc. Then pretty quickly, the baton was passed to Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Fantasia and the cast of “After Midnight.” They looked pretty smooth doing that show’s Cotton Club-style singing and dancing, but it’s hard not to view it as Jackman punting — can’t top Harris’s 2012 and 2013 show-opening spectaculars.

“It’s going to be after midnight till I catch my breath,” Jackman quipped when the music was over, also cracking a gag about “Wolverine in tap shoes.” Gotta love him — OK, like him a lot — even if this opening isn’t likely to be a die-hard fave on YouTube.

So Hugh didn’t go Neil one better (at least early in the telecast — though who could say what’s still up their sleeves, with Harris on hand and nominated for “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”?). And talk about playing it safe: Next came the latest Broadway iteration of “Les Miz,” with the “new” stage version of Disney’s “Aladdin” not far behind. Idina Menzel sang from DC favorite “If/Then” — safe to say that, since the new Tom Kitt-Brian Yorkey musical bowed at the National last fall — but the early face presented to the world by the Great White Way looked chipper but not terribly fresh.


Tony Awards 2014: Complete list of winners


First Post byline, 1992; covering theater for the Post since 1999. His book "American Playwriting and the Anti-Political Prejudice" came out in 2014.



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