Stalking Wolverine and James Bond on Broadway
Or, how waiting for Hollywood hunks Hugh Jackman
and Daniel Craig in the freezing New York rain left this author starstruck
EVERY TIME I VISIT NEW YORK, ONE OF my favorite places on earth, I crash at my friend Vanessa Ira’s cozy Upper East Side apartment. No, it’s not on Fifth Avenue, but it might as well be for all the wonderful things in the vicinity that Nen, who has lived in New York for some 15 years and who works in the magazine business, often shows me.
As a treat for her hospitality, I usually take Nen to a Broadway show. Luckily, I read that on Broadway, Hollywood hunks Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig—otherwise known as Wolverine and James Bond—are doing a talkie on Broadway for only 12 weeks, up to Dec. 6. No song-and-dance, just 90 minutes of no-intermission drama.
The premise was promising. In “A Steady Rain,” Jackman and Craig would be playing two Chicago cops who had been friends since childhood, and who would come up against a dilemma of morals as well as emotions-Denny (Jackman) is domineering and crooked, while Joey (Craig) is the more morally upright sidekick who also happens to be in love with Denny’s wife. “Jackman and Craig as cops? All of gay New York will be there,” harped one writer in Time Out New York.
After the play opened on Sept. 29, the reviews pretty much said the same thing: the material was no big deal, and it was like the two stars opted to take time off from Hollywood to do some “serious” stuff, so could their agents please find them some material? In his next day’s review in the New York Times, Ben Brantley declared that the play was “best regarded as a small, wobbly pedestal on which two gods of the screen may stand in order to be worshipped.” The general consensus, however, was that Craig was more believable. Whatever—Nen and I were out to ogle, not analyze.
And that’s how we ended up outside the Schoenfeld Theater on West 45th St. one Thursday night (again, non-weekend shows were cheaper) in October, when winter weather had unexpectedly come in the fall and upset a lot of New Yorkers. To top it off, the rain that had accompanied my flight from San Francisco had made it to Manhattan, leaving us with wet, icky 31-degree weather.
Nen and I huddled under an umbrella until they opened the doors and let us in, and the excitement was palpable. Happily, the Schoenfeld (where Nen and I had seen the revival of “A Chorus Line” a couple of years before) was a small theater, so a right mezzanine seat still allowed you to see the actor’s face.
The ushers were unusually, irritatingly persistent. “Please, please turn off your cell phones,” the lady in charge of our row kept repeating. You couldn’t blame her, though; the celebrity show TMZ had just reported that, a week or so earlier, Jackman had actually stopped in the middle of a monologue when a cell phone started ringing. “You want to get that?” he said. The worst part was, the moron who owned the phone just let it ring, probably too embarrassed to move, while Jackman paced for a while. “Come on, just turn it off,” he repeated before picking up where he left off.
No understudies were announced before the show, and my heart leapt. Then, with a flick of a switch, the lights were on, and the two actors were seated in chairs, facing the audience on a bare set. I pinched Nen in the dark. Hugh Jackman was absolutely larger than life, and looked 10-feet-tall on stage.
Daniel Craig, meanwhile, was smaller and appeared more in character, walking with a slight stoop and sporting what Brantley called a “milquetoast mustache and cowed mien” befitting his timid character. The Englishman had the more authentic accent, as well.
Brantley was right—the material was unremarkable, the actors too pretty. Nen and I agreed that Jackman belonged in musicals
, because you just couldn’t buy the idea that he was down on his luck or heartbroken. Craig, in his Broadway debut, was more convincing. John Crowley’s direction of the Keith Huff play was lacking in high points, but I have an added beef with costume guy Scott Pask, who made the story even less believable: Craig was way too well-dressed, his jacket immaculate, his shirt spotless. Even the tie was perfect, unlike those of TV cops who look like they haven’t ironed their collars in days.
Again, Brantley had a point when he said the words would have been “marginally more credible spoken by a couple of sweaty, paunchy American actors instead of a buff pair of superstars from England and Australia.” Touché.
Be that as it may, eye candy they undoubtedly were. By the time Nen and I left the theater, we were ready to play Stagedoor Junes and wait in the rain. We were about 20 ft from the stage door, lined up parallel to the street. Then the security guy announced, “Over here, nice and easy,” and created a new line. We scurried over, and ended up behind only two rows of people.
A limousine parked on the curb. Then the stage door opened, and Daniel Craig stepped out, only a few feet from where I was, close enough to lunge at. His smile was almost shy, and he went from one side of the crowd of about 50 people to the other, signing autographs and actually taking people’s cameras to photograph himself with them. He was the sexiest thing, and I swore my mouth hung open, even as Nen kept trying to push me forward. “Great Broadway debut,” I yelled. Craig looked up, trying to spot the speaker, and said softly “Thank you.” I took one look at his incredible light blue eyes, and froze—absolutely torpe in the face of Bond, James Bond!
After about 10 minutes, and with a modest wave of his hand, Craig got into the limousine and was gone. Another limousine took the same parking space, and after a few minutes, out strode Jackman in a fedora, his throat wrapped in a warm gray muffler. The crowd screamed as he began posing and signing. The first thing I noticed were his teeth, and I thought: Chiclets. They were as straight, white, and perfect as Chiclets. He was much bigger than I expected, and looked about 6-ft-tall. Now I understand what they really mean when they say movie stars have an unexplainable presence, because Hugh Jackman is a STAR.
A woman yelled: “We turned off our cell phones for you!” and Jackman laughed almost sheepishly, as if slightly embarrassed by his diva moment. Not that he should be—I still wish he had disemboweled the cell phone moron with his adamantium claws, which would have been more dramatic than the poor play. A group behind me then chanted, “Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie,” and the Australian actor’s face visibly lit up as he yelled “Ozzie!” right back.
Nen kept pushing me forward, but again I could only stare. By then, however, we were both avowed Craig fans, so when a woman behind us yelled, “You stole the show!” Nen snapped back loudly, “No, he didn’t!” Fear of being lynched by the Ozzie-loving mob snapped me out of my trance, just in time to see Jackman wave, throw kisses and disappear into his limousine.
“Ikaw talaga, you’re going to get us beaten up!” I told my friend with a laugh, even as we gushed over both actors, but more specifically over Craig. “Thank you, Alya!” Nen said, giving me a hug. And we walked down Times Square, giggling and exhilarated over coming within smooching distance of both Wolverine and James Bond on the same night. Only in New York!
http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/artsandbo ... n-Broadway
3 pics in the link.