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20 February 2019, 17:55
He might be The Greatest Showman, but are his vocals alone up to scratch? Here are a few thoughts we’ve had on Hugh Jackman’s singing voice…
First things first, Hugh Jackman started out as a musical theatre man.
After playing Curly in a 1998 production of Oklahoma! on the West End, he went on to win a Tony Award for his performance in a 2004 stage production of The Boy from Oz.
Later, he started a one-man show in San Francisco, singing his favourite Broadway and Hollywood musical numbers, backed by a 17-piece orchestra – and this Spring, he plans to tour Europe and the US with a similar show.
In the above clip of ‘Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’, 30-year-old Jackman’s voice is beautiful (despite the odd note that sounds like it’s forced through his nose).
He was, and still is, a total natural on stage. His passion and positivity shine through, making him equally well suited to his chipper portrayal of the not-so-nice-in-real-life circus entertainer P.T. Barnum.
So where did it all go wrong in Les Misérables?
His fortissimo belt might have suited the macho head voices of Curly and Barnum – but for Jean Valjean, he needed a bit more sensitivity.
‘Bring Him Home’ should start off in a tenor’s falsetto, emanating Valjean’s quietly tortured state. He is desperate, begging God to return the sleeping Marius to Cosette.
But Jackman, whose voice is more convincing in its baritone range, starts off too loud with a wide vibrato that undermines the sensitive piano passage.
His voice is strong – but it might have been better suited to Javert.
Jackman has a great ‘Javert’-style head voice – as he demonstrated in his enactment of the humorous villain Gaston, in an Australian production of Beauty and the Beast.
In pop musical songs like ‘Gaston’, or ‘From Now On’ in The Greatest Showman, Jackman’s head voice really works. His nasal tones allow him to belt, and perfectly complement his ‘showman’ manner.
In the video below of him performing the song at a read-through with the cast, you can feel the passion pouring out of him. So although his vocals might not be spot-on, the emotion behind his performance is incredibly infectious.
Sure, you won’t find Hugh Jackman entertaining his fans with a subtle, introverted performance of ‘Bring Him Home’. But if you want a moving ballad communicated with passion and verve, Jackman’s the singer for you.