As the coronavirus pandemic continues to paralyze New York City, the future of Broadway remains unknown.
The Broadway League announced earlier this month that theaters would remain closed at least through June 7.
If they stick with that date, it looks like the producers of the upcoming revival of “The Music Man” plan to start rehearsals three weeks later.
“I speak with [producer] Scott Rudin every other day and we’re due to start rehearsals on June 29 and that hasn’t changed,” Hugh Jackman, who is set to star in the production with Sutton Foster, says on Wednesday’s episode of the Variety and iHeart podcast “The Big Ticket.” “Our first preview is September 15. But of course, we’ll have to see what happens. But at present, that’s still the plan.”
Jackman, who has won two Tonys and hosted Broadway’s biggest night four times, notes that 16 productions were supposed to open in time for 2020 Tony eligibility before COVID-19. The Tonys have been officially postponed with no word yet on whether they’ll be cancelled altogether or presented in some other way.
“What most people don’t understand is that it probably [takes] seven years to get to their first preview,” Jackman says. “I know what it takes to get a musical up and running and going, the amount of work that goes into it. It’s just devastating.”
Jackman and his wife Deborra-Lee Furness and their kids are following stay-at-home orders at their apartment in New York City. They’re doing jigsaw puzzles and spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Jackman boasts that he made low-carb bread. “[It] sounds really bad, right? It sounds like what’s the point?” he says. “And I have tried it a couple of times when I’ve been on Wolverine diets…but I had someone in my house who’s like, ‘I’m trying to eat less carbs.’ I’m like, okay, let’s have a look. And I found this thing and it was actually yummy.”
Jackman is also promoting his latest film, “Bad Education.” Based on true events, the HBO movie tells the story of students at a high school newspaper on Long Island who uncovered that their district superintendent Frank Tassone (Jackman) and members of his staff were embezzling millions from the school system.
Tassone was convicted for stealing $11 million from the Roslyn school district. He was sentenced to four to 12 years in prison, but was released in 2010 after spending just three years behind bars.
How he got away with such a massive scam may trace back to Tassone’s reputation. He was a beloved figure in the community, helping the high school become one of the best rated schools in the country. While he may have secretly been spending on things like $30,000 a year on dry cleaning, he also took care of his staff by showering them with gifts, including weekend getaways and lobster lunches.
“Many of the programs that he started there at Roslyn are now staples across the country,” Jackman says. “He’s also someone who lost his way through success. And hey, I’m in Hollywood, I see that all the time. Success is something that can really accelerate the flaws that are within people. And what Frank had and this is something that most of us can relate to, is his idea of needing to be perfect on the outside in appearances… He was just underneath the water treading as fast as he could and obviously in the end he couldn’t tread any longer.”
Allison Janney co-stars as Tassone’s second-in-command Pam Gluckin. In one memorable scene, Tassone and Gluckin eat lunch together on the bleachers. Director Corey Finley told them to vamp and not worry about the script too much. “We just started to play and have fun and Cory just would never cut because we just kept on going,” Jackman recalls. “I just lost it. Some of the laughs in there are actually me laughing. It was just too much fun.”
Listen to the full interview with Jackman below. You can also find “The Big Ticket” at iHeartRadio or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.