Hugh Jackman on Broadway’s ‘Music Man’ back on track for spring 2021 (exclusive)

Also starring Sutton Foster, the musical revival originally slated for fall will now begin airing on April 7, with the goal of waking Broadway from its long sleep.

If anyone can wake Broadway from an unprecedented shutdown that has left many people fearful of the future of the theater industry, it is Hugh Jackman.

Producers Scott Rudin, Barry Diller and David Geffen confirmed Wednesday that their large-scale revival of Meredith Willson The music man, which will star Jackman alongside another returning Broadway treasure, Sutton Foster, is now slated to begin previews on April 7, 2021, at the Winter Garden Theater. The official opening night was set for May 20.

The eagerly anticipated production was originally announced for the fall and had been recording rapid ticket sales before Broadway went dark on March 12 as part of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s pandemic mandate to suspend all major gatherings in an effort for flattening the COVID curve. 19 infections.

That original closure was implemented until April 12, with subsequent extensions that delayed the closure until June 7 and then again until Labor Day. An announcement by the Broadway League trade organization is expected this week to extend the blackout until January, although most experts consider March / April to be a more realistic period for reopening.

While many productions wait in the wings, keeping their casts and creative teams together through the unprecedented work stoppage, the announcement of firm dates for a show on the scale of The music man sends a clear signal that Broadway is preparing to return to business.

Whether featured in plays or musicals, Jackman has proven himself to be the biggest star on Broadway in the past two decades. Having such a reliable box office raffle leading a spectacular montage of one of the most beloved shows in the American music canon is perhaps the best start Broadway could hope to revive the sector at this challenging time in its history.

“Acting on Broadway is a great honor for an actor, in fact, one of the greatest,” Jackman said in a statement. “No two shows are exactly alike, largely because of the audience. Show One is full of anticipation, fear, and excitement. It’s like an opening night eight times a week; the energy in the theater is palpable. It’s those same feelings. that happens in all the later shows, and you and I are going through it together. “

“The change of dates will not eliminate any of that,” Jackman continued. However, what it will do is help ensure that The music man The public and our company are in a completely safe environment. I can’t wait for that day! “

“Obviously we are deeply disappointed that we cannot start rehearsals for The music man as scheduled, “added Rudin.” But security is security, and it has to take precedence over any other consideration, both for our public and for our company. Despite the delay, we remain united as a company and are grateful to be able to do so. And we hope to get to the Winter Garden, with a beautiful and encouraging Musical man in early April, and being just one part of what we hope will be once again a vibrant and exciting Broadway. “

New York has now entered Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, which includes restaurants with cookouts and some retail stores. Indoor restaurants and other nonessential businesses should continue in Phase 3, the timeline of which has not yet been established for the metropolitan area. Broadway theaters are included in Phase 4, along with other art, entertainment and recreation companies, placing them in the final stage of the city’s reopening.

“The plan, of course, is to follow the New York State health and safety protocols that are being developed right now, which will be the basis for how the shows will return,” said Rudin Hollywood reporter.

Projections for reopening are based on increased testing and lower infection rates, not expectation of a vaccine. Rudin is highly commended for Cuomo’s leadership and team, which includes top scientists, infectious health and infectious disease experts, and industrial hygienists, calling them “amazingly innovative and cooperative” in their work with Broadway industry leaders. to chart a way forward. .

Broadway’s economic model is not conducive to theaters taking social distancing into account. While Rudin only speaks for his own productions, he said those shows will sell at full capacity, albeit with the expectation of a slow start before the business returns even close to where it was before.

“It will take a lot of strength and fortitude to hold out until he returns, because I don’t think he will return that fast,” said Rudin. “I think we will be playing low-income for a while and we have to be prepared to put up with it. And then as people understand that it is safe, more people will come back. It was also true after 9/11. Now 9/11 is back quite a bit fast, but it didn’t return to capacity or anything like that right away. “

The producer confirmed to Hollywood reporter that its other programs that had been running before the shutdown, West side story, Kill a Mockingbird and The book of Mormon, everything will reopen between mid-March and early April.

The future of Lehman’s trilogy, which had been selling well in previews before Broadway went dark, remains uncertain due to a spring reservation conflict at the Nederlander Theater, where it had been operating. Rudin said the company remains eager to return the limited engagement to New York as planned, but that now depends on finding a suitable theater available.

Both Jackman and Foster have signed for a year with The music man, which brings together the creative team of Rudin’s great revival 2017, Tony winner Hello Dolly! That includes director Jerry Zaks, choreographer Warren Carlisle, production and costume designer Santo Loquasto, lighting designer Natasha Katz, sound designer Scott Lehrer, and dance music arranger David Chase. Jonathan Tunick joined the team in orchestrations and Patrick Vaccariello as musical director.

The cast will also feature winners Tony Jayne Houdyshell, Jefferson Mays, Marie Mullen and Shuler Hensley.

In theory, the new dates for The music man It would place him out of the window for consideration of the Tony Awards, as its official opening will take place after the traditional cut of eligibility in late April. But given the anomalous nature of the 2019-20 and 2020-2021 season, most industry insiders expect the award season to be delayed to accommodate subsequent openings. The administration of the Tony Awards has only said that this year’s honors will be rescheduled to a later date to be decided once Broadway reopens.

Rudin said he is setting firm opening dates in March and April for his shows in order to free his actors from the Actors’ Equity suspension and extension deal, allowing them to look for another job in the intervening months now that production of movies and TV is starting.