So, there’s a lot happening onstage at the Broadhurst Theatre right now, and his name is Hugh Jackman. All the critics lost their shit over his solo show, Hugh Jackman Back on Broadway, and with good reason. It’s more or less irresistible, thanks to Hugh’s charm and unstoppable — and nearly indescribable handsomeness.
But amidst all the disco medleys and costume changes, which, incidentally, only Hugh could pull off without being totally annoying, there is a bit of real, substantial theater. It comes at the end of the first act, when Hugh sings “Soliloquy,” which is basically the greatest theater song of all time.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s tour-de-force from Carouselgives us Billy Bigelow — musical theater’s original sensitively brutish studmuffin — as he ponders fatherhood and ultimately his own personhood. But how do you pitch this song to a savvy, modern audience? It’s seven minutes long, it requires some pre-song setup, it’s hard to do with any kind of authority and power, and it’s so damn straightforward. It’s not cute or glib. With all its aggressively anti-postmodern leanings, you’d think that the average blockbuster action star would just stay away from it. (And what other popular star could even consider singing it? Josh Groban?)
But alas, Hugh Jackman is not an easily intimidated sort of dude. So here we have his “Soliloquy.” Ernest and vivid, it is a highlight of Hugh Jackman Back on Broadway. There’s no video of it on YouTube yet (Girls, get on that.), so here’s a clip of Hugh singing the song at Carnegie Hall a few years ago — a career highlight that he discusses fondly in his show. Watching this, even the most cynical among us are bound to feel a little swoony.