Posted on Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 by Angie Han
That Hugh Jackman loves musicals and the theater isn’t a secret, so it’s not surprising that he’s set to make his return to Broadway in the 2013-2014 season. What makes this particular appearance extra special, however, is that he’ll be hitting the stage as the lead of Houdini, the librettist debut of Aaron Sorkin. (This is a completely separate project from the other Houdini, a film by director Francis Lawrence.) Three-time Tony Award winner Jack O’Brien is slated to direct, with Stephen Schwartz writing the music. More details after the jump.
Houdini has been in development for a few years already, but it’s nice to finally have a date to look forward to. According to Sorkin, the musical will revolve around “epic battle that took place between the world’s greatest illusionist and a trio of women, known as ‘Spiritualists,’ who convinced millions of people, including the editors of Scientific American and The New York Times, that they could communicate with the dead.” Jackman will play the lead role of legendary magician and escape artist Harry Houdini.
(From Russ: Houdini had an interesting side career debunking Spiritualist claims in the ’20s. Spiritualism had quite a few followers in the US starting in the mid-1800s, with occasional faddish upswings driven in part by the hopes that people might be able to ‘speak’ to their loved ones lost in wars such as the Civil War and WWI. I take a bit of issue with Sorkin’s statement that Scientific American editors were convinced that Spiritualism was real, as the magazine offered a cash prize to any Spiritualist able prove their ‘abilities’ were legit. The prize was never collected.)
Though Jackman has gained worldwide fame as a movie star, he’s also built up quite a successful stage career over the years. One of his first breakout roles was in the Royal National Theatre’s 1998 production of Oklahoma, and he picked up a Tony Award in 2004 for his starring turn in Broadway’s The Boy from Oz. More recently, he hit the Great White Way with his show Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway, which ended its run earlier this week. Jackman’s next set to bring his musical talents to the big screen as the lead of Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables, which will begin shooting in March for a December 2012 release.
Houdini marks the first musical for Sorkin, but not his first play. Among his better known stage works are A Few Good Men, which he eventually adapted into the 1992 film starring Tom Cruise, and The Farnsworth Invention, which he adapted a few years ago from one of his unproduced screenplays. “The chance to collaborate with Stephen Schwartz, Jack O’Brien and Hugh Jackman on a new Broadway musical is a huge gift,” he said.