A lot of people were curious about the origins of Hugh Jackman's 4-minute bouncing opening number during the 68th Annual Tony Awards Sunday night.
The show started with Jackman outside Radio City Music Hall in midtown Manhattan. He took off his white dinner jacket, took a deep breath, and then started hopping past some fans outside and shaking the hand of a police officer, before entering the theater (producing a ticket from his pocket). He hopped onto the stage, and then down in the lower depths of the giant hall. He waved at Sting, jump roped with "Rocky" star Andy Karl, passed by some chorus members from "Aladdin," shared a comically awkward elevator ride with past Tony Awards host Neil Patrick Harris, sat at the piano with "Beautiful" star Jessie Mueller, passed the flag-waving cast of "Les Miserables" and the gangsters from "Bullets Over Broadway" among others and then started singing a greeting to the crowd inside the theater.
He demonstrated incredible physical agility and breath control, and as soon as that opening segment was done, he worked his way into the fast-dancing cast of "After Midnight."
The number was devised by Warren Carlyle, who won a Tony Sunday night for choreographing "After Midnight." he also staged Jackson's hit concert show "Back on Broadway." According to several reports, Carlyle told reporters backstage at the Tony Awards, that in coming up with an opening routine, he was offering a tribute to film and stage actor/singer Bobby Van.
In his 1953 film "Small Town Girl," he famously bounced around his small town, greeting folks along the way in a joyous style. During Jackman's routine, he even passed a television screen showing Van's number.
Later in the show, Jackman was joined by rappers T.I. and LL Cool J in another unconventional number, a rap variation of Meredith Willson's "Rock Island," the opening number from "The Music Man."
Here's a clip of Jackman's opening, followed by a clip of Van's dance as seen "That's Entertainment 2."
Hugh Jackman's opening number from the 2014 Tony Awards
Bobby Van in "Small Town Girl"
Here's the rap version of "Rock Island," with Jackman, T.I. and LL Cool J