Monday, May 16, 2011

Wolverine Sings

You know, Hugh Jackman must have the weirdest effing career in show business.  As he (superficially apologetically, but probably somewhat gleefully) pointed out in his one-man concert show, which just finished up two weeks in San Francisco, Hollywood knows him as "action hero" (and occasionally "romantic lead"), whereas Broadway knows him as "song-and-dance man," with his biggest success coming as playing extra-flamboyant Peter Allen.

I remember being in the audience when he was hosting the Tony Awards one year, and, during a commercial break, he asked if there were any requests.  Someone shouted, "Wolverine!" and he demurred, suggesting this wasn't the right place.  Thing is, when he's doing a one-man show, it is the right place, because he's trying to appeal to his entire audience ... whatever the hell that is.

(Largely female, apparently.)

.... He mentioned hosting the Oscars.  This is why Hugh Jackman made a good Oscar host:  He will do anything to entertain an audience.  (Are you listening, James Franco?)  Dude was seriously working it -- for an hour forty-five solid (with one small break for a costume change).  Mostly singing, sometimes dancing, frequently telling charming anecdotes, occasionally showing film clips, and -- in what might be the most impressive of all his talents -- working the audience.

To tell you the truth, I actually walked out of that thing thinking he was a good (not great) singer and a good (not great) actor -- but he's got charisma coming out of his ears and, largely because he's willing to work his ass off, what he is great at is simply entertaining.

I've been to shows where there are, shall we say, "Fans" with a capital F.  Plenty of them were in attendance at this performance, and Jackman really impressed with the way he interacted with the fans, giving them what they wanted -- while, at the same time, not letting the crazies interfere with anyone else's enjoyment of the show.  Fan wrangling is clearly an art.  And Jackman is a master of it -- making the fans feel appreciated, but (in a friendly way) putting the kibosh on things when they demand he take off his shirt ... or -- in a moment that could've come off as either amusing or creepy, when one of them reached up and started undoing some of his shirt buttons herself.  Seriously.  Do that with some performers and I expect you'll be watching the rest of the show from the alley, where the ushers have unceremoniously dumped your ass, no refund (beat-down on the way out the door optional).  But instead, he determined she was, in fact, harmless, invited her on stage, got about 20 laughs out of the situation, and not entirely subtlely rebuttoned one (but not, I noted, both) of the buttons she had undone.  Fans walk away thinking he's totally accessible and charming and all kinds of wonderful, and everyone else has a great time.  Win-win.

1 comment:

Lori said...

This was a really great review. Although I've never seen him live I have always thought from his interviews that he seemed a very easygoing and charming man. I think accessible is the right word. There aren't that many true entertainers out there, and certainly not accessible ones.