Hugh Jackman Dons Wolverine Claws on Broadway

Hugh Jackman, the star of X-Men and Wolverine movies, took a moment during a Broadway curtain call to pose as the superhero once more.

Hugh Jackman as The Wolverine in X-Men
Photo: 20th Century Studios

Hugh Jackman is living his dream on Broadway right now. Which is to say the veritable Tony and Drama Desk Award winner is finally getting to play Professor Harold Hill in Meredith Willson’s The Music Man. It’s a part he’s dreamed of since he was 14. Although for a certain breed of fan, there is only one role they dream to see Jackman in again: X-Men’s the Wolverine.

And the star obliged them recently when he donned Logan’s fabled adamantium claws on a Broadway stage. So to speak.

In a moment that went viral over the weekend, especially after Jackman shared it, a fan at the curtain call of The Music Man in the Winter Garden Theatre had good enough seats to catch Jackman’s eye when he brought along a foam set of Wolverine’s claws. Ever an actor who knows how to work a crowd—Jackman’s first Tony came from the semi-improvisational role of Peter Allen in The Boy from Oz—Jackman had those claws brought up on stage and happily put them on. He even briefly channeled the rage of the Wolverine for a cheeky moment. See for yourself in the video below.

The moment comes as one in a collection of audience-pleasing moments in The Music Man, an old-fashioned revival of the original 1957 musical. Indeed, the production—which also stars Sutton Foster as Marian Paroo, the chief skeptic turned remarkable tap dancer of River City, Iowa—was likely produced due to the star wattage of Jackman and Foster’s marquee names, with the latter also being a Broadway legend with two Tonys to her name.

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Their combined appeal has made the musical the toast of Broadway’s box office, with the production being the hottest ticket in town and its orchestra seats selling at outrageous prices. In the first two weeks since the industry Broadway League has begun making theater revenues public again after the pandemic, The Music Man has sold a combined $6.7 million, outpacing even Hamilton.

This is perhaps remarkable given the decidedly mixed reviews the production received from theater critics. While there were some genuinely positive notices, others like The New York Times and The New Yorker have shuddered at a production so nostalgic for an idealized version of turn of the 20th century, small town American life.

Personally though, it seems the reasons audiences appear to be wowed night after night, even at exorbitant prices, is precisely because it is not the revisionist deconstruction of a beloved and allegedly problematic text like, say, director Daniel Fish’s bleak 2019 revival of Oklahoma! Rather audiences seem to beam at director Jerry Zaks’ unapologetically mirthful reinvention that embraces the winking absurdity of Meredith’s music, and the fairytale style of 1950s musicals, as opposed to searching for a Trumpian underbelly to Jackman’s Hill: a character who is quite clearly a romanticized grifter who comes to town selling himself as a music teacher for band instruments he can’t play, and for uniforms he doesn’t plan to be around for when the town gets wise that he’s essentially charged them twice.

One of the few modern innovations about the new revival that does work though is the subtle shift in grifter Hill and intellectual Marian’s romance, which now is something more of a screwball battle of equals, with both becoming the bandleader by the end of the show with a new tap dance number that leaves audiences as giddy as they appear in the above video. The finale is infectiously ebullient—and certainly a much savvier update than an actual misguided attempt to rewrite the “Shipoopi!” showstopper into something less problematic, but also fairly toothless.

In fact, at the one performance this writer did attend of The Music Man—from way up in the mezzanine, mind you—we had an excellent view of Jackman going viral again when he surprised Foster with a “Happy Birthday” celebration, which you can see below.

As Jackman previously told Den of Geek, the role of Wolverine is something diehard fans will never let go. But given Harold Hill is the part he’s wanted ever since appearing in the ensemble of his high school production of The Music Man over 30 years ago, it seems he’s already living in his favorite corner of the multiverse.

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