Hugh Jackman wasn't feeling the magic.
It was late 2013, and Jackman was reading yet another rewrite of "Houdini," the musical he'd been developing for five years. Harry Houdini's life once seemed so spectacular for an actor to take on, but the show had become weighed down by a plotline about Houdini's real-life crusade to debunk spiritualists in the 1920s. There were not enough powerful moments like the song "It'll Be Me," part of a new score by Stephen Schwartz, his first for Broadway since "Wicked."
With his film career in high gear, Jackman called the "Houdini" producers and bowed out.
Now, Jackman is on Broadway in a low-key new play, "The River." And "Houdini," which once aimed to open this winter, remains in limbo. The show has bedeviled even A-list artists like scriptwriter Aaron Sorkin and Schwartz, who quit in October.
"I wanted to find a great story about Houdini, but the show just never found the right size or shape," said Jackman, Broadway's most reliable draw since his Tony-winning debut in the 2003 musical "The Boy From Oz."
"Creating a new original musical is the Mount Everest of the theatrical art form," he said. "That's why there are very few of them."
The producers are trying to attract a new star to revive the show. As for Jackman, he has decided to make a musical about another showman, P.T. Barnum. It's a movie, due out in 2016.
New York Times