The off-stage Hugh Jackman glows with the same combination of energy, intelligence, and charm that lights up a theatre whenever he’s on stage. His joy and optimism are contagious. Ask anyone who’s had the good fortune to work with him. He’s a team player. Well, these days he’s usually the team captain. And everybody wants to be on his team.
His approach to his work is serious and focused. He dedicates himself to delivering his best on every project. But he’d really rather be showing you pictures of his kids and telling you about their latest exploits. He’s a family man who happily remembers that when he married Deb, she was a major television star while he was still sweeping the stage. Now he’s a big star playing leading roles in movies and in the theatre. But at home with Deb and the kids, Hugh is the winner of the award for best performance in a supporting role, and he loves it.
I first knew Hugh when he was preparing for The Boy from Oz. For this role he did not have to perfect a new accent. He was one Australian playing another. He became the essence of Peter Allen, telling his story with all the show-biz panache of the original. With his first Broadway show Hugh became a sensation. He won the Tony and dazzled audiences for a year.
His next Broadway appearance was in a straight play, a drama called A Steady Rain. He starred with Daniel Craig, both of them playing tough cops in Chicago. The engagement was sold out the day tickets went on sale. And nobody needs to be reminded of the phenomenal success of this season’s Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway.
Hugh always creates excitement. He’s a star who makes you remember why you fell in love with the theatre in the first place. In the Broadway record books Hugh Jackman will be remembered as one of the greats. What else can I say? I like the guy.
Philip J. Smith is the Chairman and Co-CEO of the Shubert Organization. He received a 2011 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.