Get ready for 76 trombones and a box office stampede.
Hugh Jackman will take on his first Broadway musical role in 16 years when he heads the cast of a major 2020 revival of The Music Man, producer Scott Rudin confirmed today. Jackman teased the announcement Tuesday with a promotional image from the production on his Twitter feed, sparking wide speculation across theater sites.
The actor will play “Professor” Harold Hill, the charismatic con man who comes to the small Iowa town of River City posing as a boys’ marching band organizer and intends to abscond with the cash he collects for musical instruments and uniforms. Prim librarian Marian sees through his scam and plans to expose him, but romantic complications ensue.
“The first musical I was ever part of was the phenomenal The Music Man,” said Jackman in a statement. “The year was 1983, and I was at Knox Grammar School in Sydney, Australia. I was one of the traveling salesmen, and I think I can actually (almost) remember that unforgettable opening number! That was probably the moment when the magic of theater was born in me.”
“The idea of bringing The Music Man back to Broadway has been lurking in the back of my brain for a long time, maybe even for 35 years,” continued Jackman. “When Scott Rudin called me with that very idea, I was floored. To finally be doing this is a huge thrill.”
“There is just no way to accurately describe the level of excitement I feel about the opportunity to present Hugh in what I think is the best role ever written for an actor in all of Broadway musical theater,” added Rudin.
Unique among 21st century marquee names in his ability to straddle big-screen action franchises and old-fashioned song-and-dance roles onstage, Jackman has proved himself to be among the most reliable guarantees of blockbuster ticket sales since his Tony-winning 2003 Broadway debut in the Peter Allen bio-musical, The Boy From Oz.
The actor has appeared three times since on Broadway in limited engagements in the plays A Steady Rain (2009) and The River (2014) and the concert showcase Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway (2011), generating combined grosses of $83.4 million.
With premium pricing having significantly pumped box office earning potential in the five years since the most recent of those productions, a Jackman-led revival of a canonical property like the 1957 Meredith Willson musical promises to be massive, particularly given that the actor has signed on for a full year.
Director Jerry Zaks will again handle the reins, with Warren Carlyle on board as choreographer, Santo Loquasto designing sets and costumes, Natasha Katz on lighting, Scott Lehrer on sound and David Chase on dance arrangements. Joining the team will be distinguished music veterans Jonathan Tunick, doing orchestrations, and Patrick Vaccariello as music director, a role he filled on both The Boy From Oz and Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway.
The revival will begin previews Sept. 9, 2020, ahead of an Oct. 22 official opening at a Shubert theatre to be announced, along with additional casting. Group ticket sales begin on June 9 this year, with single tickets available starting Sept. 15.