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.
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!
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.
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!
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>
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!