If you’re not aware, Hugh Jackman is an incredibly talented actor with skills beyond acting like real singing and dancing skills. He has starred in musicals such as Oklahoma! (video) and The Boy from Oz (video from 2004 Tony Awards). However, my favourite example can be seen in his 2009 Oscars opening that he gave while hosting because he goes through so many characters, in musical format rather than their regular movie format (starting at 2:00 in video).
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Currently, Hugh Jackman is arguably most well-known for his role as the X-men mutant Wolverine. The character was so well played and so loved by fans from original X-men trilogy of movies that it got its own movie, just released at time of posting. It’s a part Hugh played so stunningly it will be hard to imagine anyone else doing it. He really owns that role.
In terms of character, Wolverine is a rough on the edges, fearsome sort of character with many animal instincts and behaviours true to his name. It is quite the antithesis to anything most people associate with the fine art form of musical theatre. It is precisely because of this polarity that Hugh Jackman is truly able to show how talented an actor he is. He can really cover both ends of the acting spectrum well, finesse to rough, animal to human, action, drama, song, dance, and everything in between. Ironically, though, despite the respect he gets and deserves for this, there has also been jokes about him starring in a musical called Wolverine. Seems the people who joke about it thinks that if such a musical were made, it’d have Wolverine making a mockery of himself. However, I beg to differ.
I think superhero comic book stories are very well suited to musical theatre! For one thing, where can you write in more drama than in a superhero comic book story? It’s like exaggerated fiction given super powers, where the heroes and villains are both larger than grand! With comic book stories, every subplot can be epic! In fact, you can probably make every musical number epic if you had a writers talented enough to write that many memorable numbers in a musical. That’s because you can expand every type of human emotion, ritual, value and such beyond the boundaries of what humans, society, the natural world and universe, can be expected to do in regular fiction or nonfiction.
For many, the doubts over a comic book superhero musical are really over the stage and musical theatre’s form to convincingly portray the supernatural elements and serious intense drama in comic books. That is, can the stage suit the comics rather than the comics suit the stage? Well, I say an equally convincing yes. There have been very dramatic and serious musicals portraying thriller and horror type stories that did not exactly extract laughs or make a mockery out of their heroes and villains, with technology nothing like they have for the theatre stage today. The Phantom in Phantom of the Opera is no mockery of a character even on a musical stage. The story of the demon barber Sweeney Todd has also been adapted into a musical of the same name. It was a musical thriller, no less, and won a Tony Award in 1979, no less. The famous story of Jekyll & Hyde has also been well adapted to theatre, with two songs that could well have been in a superhero comic book musical. This is the Moment primes for the ultimate of ultimate moments, well sung below by Robert Cuccioli.
Meanwhile, Someone Like You is about as nice a love by chance song as you’ll find. Linda Eder, who sang it on Broadway as part of the Jekyll & Hyde production, sings it below with her real life husband and the song’s writer, Frank Wildhorse, in a PBS Special. This is real life love and magic in music.
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What exists with Hugh Jackman being such a great screen and musical actor, with a comic superhero part he’s made his own, is an opportunity for a superhero comic book that might not ever occur any time soon. To that realization, I’m really hoping someone will work on a Wolverine musical. It shouldn’t be the kinds of “jokes” you see below, which I love as humour, but in which I also see the potential for what could be. The first is of some guy spoofing Wolverine in a musical, but has some more serious moments.
The second is Hugh Jackman, himself, doing Wolverine the musical with action figures in an interview (3:50 into the video)! I can’t believe hardly anyone has seen this video (under 1000 at time of posting)! Sure, he’s humouring the reporter but it seems to me he’s game, and that’s not the type of material I’m thinking about. And hey, if Hugh’s game, I say what are we waiting for?
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 10.1