Hugh Jackman In 'Houdini': Actor Is Back On Broadway Again In Aaron Sorkin-Penned Musical
NEW YORK -- Hugh Jackman liked his record-setting Broadway run so much this winter that he's handcuffing himself to a future musical about Harry Houdini.
Producers said Wednesday that Jackman, best known as the hairy Wolverine in "The X-Men" franchise, will star as the famed illusionist in "Houdini." It's scheduled to reach Broadway during the 2013-14 season.
Academy Award and six-time Emmy Award winner Aaron Sorkin of "West Wing" fame will write the story, and three-time Academy Award and four-time Grammy Award winner Stephen Schwartz of "Wicked" fame will write music and lyrics.
Jackman's career trajectory reveals a penchant for portraying showmen. He previously played a magician, rivaling Christian Bale, in 2006's "The Prestige." Jackman will also play ringmaster P.T. Barnum in the upcoming 2013 film, "The Greatest Showman on Earth." Aside from the more obvious parallels, Jackman has gravitated toward showmanship in other ways, including his song and dance numbers for the 2009 Oscars, not to mention his most recent turn on Broadway, which featured Jackman singing hits from from his stage and film career, backed by an 18-piece orchestra.
Jackman's one-man, 10-week Broadway concert show, "Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway," closed Sunday at the Broadhurst Theatre after having earned more than $2 million in its final week. It was the highest weekly gross recorded by the Shubert Organization, which owns the Broadhurst and 16 other Broadway theaters.
According to Jackman, his turn as "Houdini" is somewhat his own ultimate magic trick: "I have been deeply fascinated by the life of Harry Houdini since I was young, and in many ways I've been preparing for this role my whole life."
Houdini himself had a career as an actor, which was mainly another forum to showcase his escapades. A DVD box set released in 2008, "Houdini: The Movie Star," features his silent films, including "The Master Mystery," "Terror Island," "The Man From Beyond," "Haldane of the Secret Service," "The Grim Game" and filmed records of Houdini escapes from 1907 to 1923.
Houdini's legacy has carried on in biographical films as well. The earliest, and one of the most famous, fictionalized accounts of his life was 1953's "Houdini," starring real-life husband and wife Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh as Houdini and wife Bess. The most recent account was 2007's "Death Defying Acts," starring Guy Pearce and Catherine Zeta-Jones, which focuses on a romantic affair.
The Broadway musical account will have a different focus -- in a statement, Sorkin emphasized that the story will be modernized, and hones in on "an epic battle that took place between the world's greatest illusionist and a trio of women, known as 'Spiritualists.'"