If anyone still had doubts about Hugh Jackman being a guarantee of box-office gold on Broadway, the announcement that his latest vehicle, The River, has recouped its $3.2 million investment in just a month should be proof enough.
Lead producer Sonia Friedman confirmed on Friday that the Jez Butterworth play, directed by Ian Rickson, has earned back its capitalization, meaning a healthy profit can be expected from the remainder of the run, which is s scheduled through Feb. 8.
The news comes on the heels of the announcement earlier in the week that the all-star revival of the Terrence McNally comedy It’s Only a Play also recouped, getting this season off to a strong start for nonmusicals.
First produced at London’s Royal Court Theatre in 2012, The River stars Jackman alongside Laura Donnelly and Cush Jumbo in an enigmatic drama about a trout fisherman in a remote cabin and his attempts on a moonless night to recapture the woman of his dreams.
The Broadway transfer began previews on Oct. 31 at the Circle in the Square and officially opened on Nov. 16. While reviews for the play itself were far more mixed than in London, critics generally had high praise for the production, and Jackman in particular.
The actor has previously been a major draw on Broadway in the Peter Allen bio-musical The Boy From Oz, for which he won a Tony Award for best actor; in the cop drama A Steady Rain, starring opposite Daniel Craig; and in his song-and-dance show Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway. The commercial success of The River demonstrates that Jackman’s star power also translates to more challenging material.
The production has been playing to capacity audiences since the start of previews, with grosses of $5.5 million through Dec. 14. The fast recoupment is all the more remarkable in a theater that seats less than 700 people, and for a production with an affordable-ticket policy of offering a significant number of $35 and $95 seats at every performance.
Other producers on the show with Friedman are Stuart Thompson, Scott Rudin, Roger Berlind, Colin Callender, Scott Landis and Tulchin Bartner Productions.
Did you check out the 68th Annual Tony Awards last night? Hugh Jackman was the host for the evening — and showcased not only his talent but physical stamina! Opening the show, he hopped throughout Radio City Music Hall for four minutes – a nod to Bobby Van’s “Take Me To Broadway” number from the 1953 musical, Small Town Girl – and greeted various performers who would be gracing the stage along the way.
Along with the bouncing, Hugh also led LL Cool J and T.I. into a rap inspired by The Music Man, borrowing “Rock Island” and adapting it to a modern audience. Hugh’s presence was felt throughout the entire evening, serving up songs for nominated actresses and providing backstage shenanigans (including playing in a band with Bradley Cooper and a card game with Sting) before commercial breaks. He also announced the winners for a couple of awards and was even able to give the history-making Audra McDonald her sixth Tony – a new record – and becoming the first person to win in all four acting categories.
If official video becomes available, I will provide links here. In the meantime, enjoy the various pictures – from the red carpet, show, and backstage – of Hugh from the 2014 Tonys!
Earlier today, May 21st, Hugh Jackman joined his X-Men: Days Of Future Past co-stars for an interview at SiriusXM. James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart – both of whom play Charles Xavier in the upcoming film – were on-hand to help promote the film. Although there is yet no footage or sound clips from the interview (I heard it’s meant to air on Friday morning), there are several photos from the event in the gallery. It looks like they had an absolute blast — can’t wait for the interview!
In Perth, Australia, on May 17th, Hugh Jackman helped launched his newest philanthropical effort: the Jackman Furness Foundation for the Performing Arts. At WA Academy’s Mt. Lawley campus, he celebrating the importance of (performing) arts education — and how his time at WAAPA left a great impact on his career.
Hugh announced that he and wife Deborra-Lee Furness would be donating $1 million to the foundation – which will help groom future acting talents – matching a donation by Andrew Forrest. This, on top of the $10 million fundraising goal they hope to reach within the next four years. Check out some quotes from Perth Now below:
“Nothing could make me happier [than giving back],” [Hugh Jackman] said. “I can tell you with absolute certainty: there is no way my career would be what it is or that I would be standing in this capacity on this stage if it wasn’t for this institution of WAAPA. It is unique; there is nowhere like it in the world, and everyone in our business knows about WAAPA and I want it to be treasured here, in this state, as much as it is around the world.”
Jackman said he wanted to avoid discussions concerning the lack of government funding to the arts and, instead, “focus on being part of the solution.”
“This is a marathon and we hope to be here for the long haul,” he said.
To close the launch, Hugh Jackman joined several current students of WAAPA on stage to sing Peter Allen’s “I Still Call Australia Home” — a staple among Hugh’s performances. Others in attendance included Adam Gilchrist, Colin Barnett, and Aurelio Costarella. Perth Now has the following comments from others who were at the launch (including a former teacher) on Hugh’s generosity:
Former head of acting, Chris Edmund, who directed and taught Jackman between 1992-94, said Jackman’s commitment WAAPA was “extraordinary. He didn’t have to do this.” Edmund, who retired last year after 30 years with the prestigious academy, said Jackman’s support was “guaranteeing the longevity of WAAPA.”
Stephanie Power, who was two years ahead of Jackman in WAAPA’s acting course and remains friends with the actor, said the foundation’s support was crucial. “It’s very important to WAAPA because I think basically without it we’re just going to fold,” Power said. “This will maintain WAAPA as a drama school and maintain its standing in the world [and] I think without the foundation, WAAPA has a death knell.”
Power, who runs WAAPA’s photo archives, said she remembers a “gangly,” gutsy, and fresh-faced Hugh Jackman arriving WAAPA with an unrivalled energy and enthusiasm.
“When I graduated, he found my first place that I lived in,” she said. “If you went to him and said you had a problem he would go, ‘Let me see what I can do.’
“I will tear up. He is the nicest guy; he’s a beautiful, beautiful man who has a heart of gold.”
After a long promo tour that took him halfway around the world, Hugh Jackman arrived in Australia to celebrate the release of his upcoming film, X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Held in Melbourne, the film made its Australian debut, with support of co-stars Fan Bingbing and Peter Dinklage. Pictures appear to still be making their way online, so I’ll be sure to update as they come in. Stay tuned for potential video interviews from the red carpet as well.
Earlier today, May 14th, Hugh Jackman attended the Singapore premiere for X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Fan Bingbing and Peter Dinklage – who play Blink and Peter Trask in the movie, respectively – were also on-hand to show support. You can watch a short interview with Hugh from the event below, in which he talks about the Kaya toast he earlier posted on Instagram. I’ll add more videos if they become available.
On May 10th, X-Men: Days Of Future Past finally made its world premiere in New York City. Hugh Jackman was, of course, in attendance, along with its massive cast from the franchise: Jennifer Lawrence, Ellen Page, James McAvoy, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart, Fan Bingbing, Peter Dinklage, Evan Peters, Nicholas Hoult, Shawn Ashmore, and Omar Sy. You can check out a few red carpet interviews below:
The X-Men: Days Of Future Past New York press conference was held on May 9th, and Hugh Jackman was in attendance to talk about his upcoming film. Although there is yet no video on the panel, you can listen to the entire interview right here. Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Ellen Page, Patrick Stewart, and Peter Dinklage were also on-hand, and each give some great insight into the movie — including working with one another.