Hugh Jackman to Return to Broadway in 'The River'

10:02 PM PST 05/08/2014 by David Rooney
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Hugh Jackman

The Tony-winning actor will star opposite Laura Donnelly and Cush Jumbo in Jez Butterworth's enigmatic drama about a solitary man caught between two women.

NEW YORK – Hosting the 68th annual Tony Awards next month is just a warmup for a full-fledged return to the stage. Hugh Jackman will be back on Broadway in the fall, starring in British dramatist Jez Butterworth's The River.

Directed by Butterworth's frequent collaborator Ian Rickson, the play will begin previews on Oct. 31 for a limited 13-week engagement at the Circle in the Square Theatre, with official opening set for Nov. 16.

Jackman will play a reclusive fisherman living in a remote cabin on the cliffs high above a river who takes a woman trout-fishing on a moonless night. Her disappearance sparks a mystery, making way for the arrival of another woman and suggesting that the fisherman is trying to recapture something from his lost past. British actresses Laura Donnelly and Cush Jumbo complete the cast of the three-hander, both of them making their Broadway debuts.

Donnelly starred opposite Dominic West in the drama's acclaimed 2012 premiere at London's Royal Court Theatre. Reviewing that production in The Financial TimesSarah Hemming wrote, "It's an eerie piece, given a spellbinding production ... A wonderful play, glinting and elusive as a fish."

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Butterworth's Jerusalem was nominated for a Tony as best play in 2011, winning acting honors for Mark Rylance. Lead producer on that London import -- which also debuted at the Royal Court and was directed by Rickson -- was Sonia Friedman, who is again shepherding the Broadway run of The River.

Friedman this season had a smash hit with the Shakespeare's Globe double-bill of Twelfth Night and Richard III. Twelfth Night scored seven Tony nominations, including best revival of a play and four acting nominations, while Richard III landed an additional nod for Rylance as lead actor.

Continuing the affordable theater program she began with the Shakespeare double, Friedman has announced that a limited number of $35 day-of seats will be available for all performances of The River. While the Circle in the Square is one of Broadway's smaller theaters, with just 776 seats, Friedman and Rickson chose the venue because the play requires an intimate space.

One of an elite handful of stars considered box-office gold on Broadway, Jackman won a Tony for lead actor in a musical in 2004 for his role as songwriter-performer Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz. He starred opposite Daniel Craig in the Chicago cop drama A Steady Rain in 2009, and returned in 2011 in his wildly successful song-and-dance show, Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway. He was given a special Tony in 2012 in recognition of his charitable work.

This year's Tony Awards will be presented on June 8 at Radio City Music Hall, airing live on CBS, with Jackman hosting the show for the fourth time.

The actor will next be seen onscreen as Wolverine in Bryan Singer's X-Men: Days of Future Past, opening on May 23.

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