Hugh Jackman in Dublin: He came, he tap-danced to AC/DC

3Arena review: Jackman isn’t afraid to take chances, and the audience is right there with him

Hugh Jackman: The Man. The Music. The Show. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images

Hugh Jackman: The Man. The Music. The Show. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images

 

Have you ever seen someone tap-dance to AC/DC’s Thunderstruck? After seeing Hugh Jackman’s The Man. The Music. The Show, I can tick that one off the list.

It isn’t quite as disconcerting as it sounds. In fact, it fits perfectly with the entire show. Jackman isn’t afraid to take a couple of chances with his material, and the audience is right there with him.

From the moment Jackman appears on stage – kicking off with The Greatest Show naturally – he has the audience in the palm of his hand.

“We’re going to have some craic tonight,” he promises. “It’s the only country you can say that without getting arrested.”

He certainly delivers on that. And no one seems to be having more craic than Jackman himself, although his fellow performers have certainly got on board with it.

There’s a full orchestra on stage, with backing singers, dancers and an appearance from Irish choir The Line Up. An appearance from his Greatest Showman co-star Keala Settle earns a standing ovation, a deafening applause that feels like it should bring the roof down.

There is the obligatory attempt at the Irish language (“Conas ata sibh? That’s all I have.”) and the compliments that the audience – myself included – are lapping up (“I love Dublin, you guys are just a party crowd.”)

The show is a trip through Jackman’s career, kicking off with the Greatest Showman, through to Beauty and the Beast and Les Miserables. There’s a nod to Wolverine, with Jackman warning the X-Men fans among the crowd “I hope you’re not only Wolverine fans, it could be a long night.”

The patter is well rehearsed but doesn’t feel fake. When Jackman comments on how he’s weirdly good at remembering numbers, someone in the audience starts shouting out their phone number.

An admission that he is “terrible at saying no” brings the predictable response from some of the crowd. But he bats it away with good humour. “You don’t stay married 23 years unless you get good at saying no to that.”

The second act kicks off with a sparkling tribute to Australian entertainer Peter Allen. Jackman is a veritable human mirrorball when he appears on the stage, with a jacket and trousers that dazzle the crowd as he shimmies his way through some of Allen’s best known numbers, from Arthur’s Theme to I Go to Rio.

It seems there is little Jackman can’t turn his hand to. From Luck Be a Lady and Singin’ in The Rain, he segues into a tap dancing medley that includes the aforementioned AC/DC number and another nod to Wolverine at the end.

“Let’s see Ryan Reynolds do THAT,” he quips. “I’m going to get a middle of the night tweet from Ryan Reynolds. It’s coming.”

Things turn a bit serious when Jackman is joined on stage by a group of indigenous Australian performers, with Olive Knight singing in her native language of Walmajarri of reconciliation, before translating for the crowd. That earns another standing ovation.

Ultimately, Jackman is there to have fun, and even the most cynical among the audience can’t help but get swept along. By the time Keala Settle reappears for From Now On, the entire 3Arena is back on its feet, singing along. They’d be dancing ion the stairs, if they were allowed.

There’s time for one more – Once Before I Go. And just like that, it’s done. Jackman leaves the stage, with his title of Greatest Showman firmly intact.

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