By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com January 5, 2012 at 9:17AM
Even with a sixth reprise (if you count a brief cameo in "X-Men: First Class") of his best-known role in "The Wolverine" tentatively aiming for a start later in the year, the future seems to feature less ass-kicking and more jazz hands for Australian star Hugh Jackman. The actor got his start in musical theater, and was spotted by Bryan Singer on stage in "Oklahoma!" when Dougray Scott had to drop out of the original "X-Men," and while he's best known for his action-adventure roles, he's kept his oar in the world of singing and dancing, with a 2003 run in Broadway show "The Boy From Oz."
And the next couple of years look to bring much more of that. He's just wrapped up a two-month run on the Great White Way of the hit one-man show "Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway," which he's planning to take to London later in the year, while he's finally making his movie musical debut in Tom Hooper's "Les Miserables," which gets underway any day now. And, as confirmed yesterday by Reuters, among others, next year will see him take to the stage in a brand new musical, one penned by a pair of Oscar-winners.
As previously reported, Jackman will take the tite role in "Houdini," a Broadway show based on the life of legendary illusionist Harry Houdini. The book is penned by "The Social Network" Oscar-winner Aaron Sorkin, making his musical debut (bar an aborted stage version of The Flaming Lips' "Yoshimi Vs. The Pink Robots"), after Broadway hits "A Few Good Men" and "The Farnsworth Invention." Jack O'Brien, the Tony award-winning director of "The Full Monty" and "Hairspray," among others, is still on board to direct the show.
However, there has been a bit of a shake up in terms of the music. When originally announced, Tim Burton collaborator Danny Elfman was going to be writing the songs, with Glenn Slater ("Sister Act") penning the lyrics, but now both duties will be handled by Stephen Schwartz, composer of "Godspell" and "Wicked," as well as a three-time Oscar-winner for his song and score for "Pocahontas," and his song for "The Prince of Egypt." While we don't know our musicals backwards, that seems like an upgrade to us.
True to form, Sorkin hasn't taken a conventional biographical approach for his libretto, as he tells Reuters that the show will have"'a contemporary tone," and that the plot will revolve around Houdini, who was a famous debunker of the supernatural, clashing with a trio of female Spiritualists who claim they can communicate with the dead. The show is aiming for the 2013-4 Broadway season, so it could be as close as eighteen months away. And should it work out, can a movie be far behind?