Seventy-six trombones will lead the big parade, with 110 cornets close at hand, when Hugh Jackman returns to Broadway in the fall of 2020 as Professor Harold Hill in a Broadway revival of Meredith Willson’s seminal 1957 musical “The Music Man.”
The production will be helmed by the team behind the smash Broadway revival of “Hello, Dolly!,” including producer Scott Rudin, director Jerry Zaks and choreographer Warren Carlyle. Further casting (including the actress who will play love interest Marian Paroo) remain to be announced.
In a statement, Jackman recalled being in the ensemble of a grammar school production of “The Music Man” in Sydney in 1983. “That was probably the moment when the magic of theater was born in me,” Jackman said.
“The Music Man” was a huge hit in the late 1950s, running 1,375 performances and winning the Tony Award for Best Musical over “West Side Story.” It observes how traveling salesman Hill deceives a stubborn Iowa community circa 1912 with the promise of organizing a boys marching band (even though he himself has no musical talent) and is ultimately redeemed by winning the affection of the guarded local librarian. Its many well-known songs include “Seventy-Six Trombones,” “Till There Was You” and “Ya Got Trouble.”
If all goes to plan, this will be Jackman’s first Broadway musical since “The Boy from Oz,” the 2003 star vehicle in which he won a Tony Award for his performance as the flamboyant Australian singer-songwriter Peter Allen. He subsequently returned to Broadway in two dramas (“A Steady Rain,” “The River”) and the one-man song-and-dance spectacle “Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway.”
The Harold Hill role has historically been identified with Robert Preston, who originated the role on Broadway and reprised his performance in the faithful 1962 film version. The role has also been played by Dick Van Dyke (in a 1980 City Center production), Craig Bierko (in a 2000 Broadway revival), Matthew Broderick (in a 2003 TV film) and Norm Lewis (in a recent Kennedy Center concert production). In a statement, Rudin referred to Harold Hill as “the best role ever written for an actor in all of Broadway musical theater.”