Sustainable Happiness….


The Boy from Oz didn’t win a Tony Award for Best Musical. In my opinion, some of it was kind of cheesy.’ You can read about the show here. Hugh’s performance, however was breathtaking. There were many opportunities for Hugh to ad lib with the audience and did he ever take advantage of them! He flirted, he danced, he undressed, he sang, he utterly charmed the audience. He would pick a celebrity or a regular person out of the audience and bring them up onstage and play with them. In a very pleasant way, not mean at all.

goldpantsSara Jessica Parker with Hugh at the Tony Awards

Each show was different, depending on the audience. Once I fell for Hugh, I went to see the show over and over. Over the year that the show was open I saw it at least 15 times. Yes, a lot. That’s why I was a member of The Ozalots. We were a group of people who, well, saw The Boy from Oz (TBOZ) a lot. We even went to the show as a group and had our group picture taken with Hugh. LOL!  

  The Ozalots had an online forum where we shared stories of that night’s performance and our stage door experiences with Hugh. That’s the great thing about the theater – you can see the actors going in and out. Back then Hugh just ambled up to the stage door, baseball cap on head, no bodyguards, no entourage. We could take pictures with him and talk to him (if we had the nerve). I didn’t really have the nerve, but I asked him to take a picture with my niece! She was only 11 years old, and had no idea why I thought she should do that, but I told her, trust me, in a few years you’ll understand! Of course, now she tells her friends “I had my picture taken with Hugh Jackman!” LOL!

hugh_jackman stage door

How did I get to the point where I was standing at a stage door pushing my niece into a strange man’s arm? I’ll tell you. The first time I saw TBOZ I was sitting in the second row and caught Hugh’s eye for a moment. BOOM! Who IS this guy??? I felt like he and I were connected somehow. LOL! This was much the same reaction I had when I saw Richard Armitage as Thorin in The Hobbit movie. WHO IS THIS GUY???

Right before I went to see TBOZ for the first time I decided to go with my friend to take classes at the School of Practical Philosophy. In their own words: “Thus, Philosophy Works encourages everyone to access their inner happiness, wisdom and strength. The premise is that within each of us is an inexhaustible source of nourishment, well-being and understanding. The classes put students in touch with this inner resource through the presentation of key principles and lively discussions of experience in putting these principles into practice.” I loved it.


Meanwhile, I looked HJ up online, checked out his movies that I rented from Blockbuster (remember those days?) and bought another ticket to see TBOZ. Found the Ozalots online forum. Found out that HJ was going to do a radio interview and was going to tape “Inside the Actors Studio”. I listened to the radio interview, and, believe it or not,  one of the questions led Hugh to share that he was a student of  – The School of Practical Philosophy! Wow.

Went to the taping of Inside the Actor’s Studio. FOUR HOURS of personal information about Hugh Jackman. His mom and his wife were in the audience. Met another Ozalot there. We became temporary superstars in the community with our report on the show taping.

HJ and SJBStephanie J. Block and Hugh Jackman in The Boy From Oz

Went to see TBOZ again. Who was in the audience? HIS MOM. Yes, dear readers, I went over to his mom at intermission and started a conversation with her. A lovely woman. Told me some really personal stuff. OMG. Felt too stalkerish and sat back down quietly.

Went to see TBOZ again. Brought HJ a book about Albert Einstein (who is quoted a lot in The School of Practical Philosophy) which I gave to him at the stage door. He thanked me. Got a scribbled HJ on my Playbill.

Went to see TBOZ again sometime later. Went to the stage door. Saw Hugh and, over the tops of lots of fans’ heads, asked him if he read the book I gave him. “It’s on my wife’s nightstand”, he says. YIKES! WOW!Hugh_Jackman BoB white shirt

The love I had for Hugh Jackman was not really about his physical attractiveness. Which was not inconsequential! But really, his life philosophy that I learned about through the School of Practical Philosophy and the things he said at Inside the Actors Studio and other interviews, made me feel that he was a man of deep spirituality, who approached his work in a spirit of being in the present, who loved his wife and children and was committed to being the best human being that he could be. I loved this about him.

In much the same way I find myself attracted to Richard Armitage because of the image he projects of a thoughtful man, connecting with people in the present, treating all people as human beings, humble, real. There seems something spiritual about RA that attracts me, although he is so private that I would not be surprised if he was actually very different in RL.

Things seem different with HJ now. He has been in two Broadway shows since The Boy from Oz. I went to see them both, of course. The first was with Daniel Craig. You could literally not get near the stage door and the seats closest to the stage were $500. Guess what? No second row seats for me! I watched women get their husbands to bid $10,000 for a sweaty Hugh undershirt. For charity, of course. And a chance to meet Hugh. Same thing for his show “Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway”. Sort of killed that personal connection. Unless you had the cash, of course, I guess. <sigh>

Hugh-Jackman BoB stage doorBye-bye, Hugh.

hugh-jackman-wolverine-chestHello, Wolverine.

post script: I don’t mean to imply that Hugh Jackman is any less spiritual or committed to the School of Practical Philosophy than he was in 2004. Just that my personal connection with him was gone when he went back to Broadway after TBOZ. The price (to me) of his success!) I wish him well and I am sure he is still an amazing human being.

Pictures from various locations. Thanks to all!



From New York City. Anglophile, theater-goer, love books, music and LIFE.
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7 Responses to Sustainable Happiness….

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I admire Hugh Jackman and love that he can sing, he can dance, he can act, and he can make me laugh. I think, no matter how wealthy or how famous he is now, he is still the same person you loved when he was in TBOZ. There may be bodyguards and an entourage, and prices to see him perform may be sky high now, but that’s just business – the law of supply and demand. Deep inside, he’s still the same person and I’m glad that you had that connection with him back then.
    I have a weakness for performers who can perform in front of a live audience and admire them more than those who act primarily only in front of the camera. There is a rawness and authenticity to those who choose life in the theater – even if they may be famous stars these days yet seek to perform onstage still – and they only get one chance to make that connection with the audience each and every single time they perform. It’s such a risk to take yet they take it performance after performance.
    I agree with your observations about Richard as well. But just really wanted to say that your words about Hugh Jackman really really touched me 🙂

    • marieastra8 says:

      Thank you so much! It was a really exciting time and I was just so sad that there was such a difference in accessibility once he got so famous, but I’m sure you are right that he is the same person I loved 10 years ago. I am looking forward to seeing him on Broadway again. He is supposed to be returning with a play about Houdini! Still hoping RA will do something on Broadway!

  2. Servetus says:

    I have a question about this, because I’m trying to understand my own experiences better. It seemed like you were saying that you admired HJ because of his apparent philosophical stances; but then later, you were turned off by the way that money became a barrier to access. Which makes it seems like the potential of the fleeting personal contact (stage door, little gifts) was important to you more than the philosophy? Again, I’m just asking you to specify. Or was it that you felt that the way that money went up as a barrier contradicted his philosophy?

    • marieastra8 says:

      Sorry that I was unclear. Not really a great writer! 😦 OK, what I’m trying to say is that during TBOZ his philosophy shone through in RL, on the stage and at the stage door. After his success it was harder to FEEL that connection, because he was so distanced. And I was sad that I no longer was able to have that connection. The RL contact made it real to me in a way that seeing someone from a distance does not. Although, his philosophy is my philosophy, and I will always be grateful that it was reinforced in me through seeing him put it in action during the TBOZ days. Now I don’t know him any more. I was very turned off by the money thing, and I guess disappointed that he didn’t try to be more inclusive. He just seemed more like a real person before and now he’s just a celebrity. I can still admire his physical beauty, but I don’t feel anything about him as a person any more.

      What I’ve learned from doing this posting is that my experience with HJ can’t really help me understand my feelings about RA. I’ve never seen RA in RL, but he always seems like a real person to me. I feel his humanity and sincerity when I watch him in interviews. I can feel his presence in his acting in a way I can’t feel HJ’s. I don’t know if that would change if I ever saw RA in RL. It’s hard for me to compare it to what I experienced with HJ, because I saw HJ for the first time in RL, I didn’t know much about him before I met his eyes in RL. Whereas I have very definite expectations about who RA is in RL, whether I’m right or wrong!
      Does that make any sense?? Is that what you were asking??

  3. Servetus says:

    Yeah, that was what I was asking, and your clarification definitely made sense!

  4. Pingback: Richard Armitage Legenda 73: Stuff worth reading | Me + Richard Armitage

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