Kurt Andersen Wants Hugh Jackman in Chains

From left, Andersen, Elfman, Yazbeck.Photos: Patrick McMullan (Andersen), Getty Images

Let’s face it, often when Broadway announces a forthcoming project, you get that ew-why-are-they-doing-that-and-who-are-these-people feeling? (We’ll admit such a feeling was driving us when we blew off the first performances of Rent thirteen years ago, then a few months later couldn’t sell our own mother for a press ticket.) But sometimes you get the opposite feeling — just a momentary burst of, Hey, this could be kind of cool. That’s the feeling we got just a few hours ago when we read that New York’s columnist Kurt Andersen is teaming up with Danny Elfman and Tony Yazbek (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) for a spring 2010 musical about … Houdini!

We imagine a smart, well-researched, bitingly clever musical with swirling, inventive music. Would Andersen agree with that heady take? We called him to find out. (We can do that, because, after all, he writes for us.) “We really want to not have it be conventional in any sense,” he said, adding (when pressed, we should say) that he can kinda see Hugh Jackman in the role of the self-chaining, self-entombing, life-risking, mother-obsessing, self-inventing Jewish magician who took an exotic-sounding Italian-type name and became the turn of the century’s closest thing to an international superstar. Kind of like Matthew Barney today, right? “That’s an interesting comparison,” Andersen said. “Maybe if he were a person that walked in the street and everybody recognized him and there were front-page articles in the New York Times about him, I guess. And if he were risking his life in those films.” —Tim Murphy

Houdini, with Score by Elfman and Yazbek, Aiming for Broadway Arrival in Spring 2010 [Playbill]

Kurt Andersen Wants Hugh Jackman in Chains