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Hugh Jackman’s wife says he’s been tap dancing for years to prepare for ‘The Music Man’

Deborra-Lee Furness chatted with TODAY on the red carpet at the opening night of the highly-anticipated revival.
/ Source: TODAY

After a long wait, the Hugh Jackman-led production of "The Music Man" is finally celebrating its opening night on Broadway — and Jackman's wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, couldn't be more excited to watch him take his bows.

Jackman is leading the classic show as Harold Hill, a con man who shows up in a small town planning to swindle its residents before falling in love with a local librarian, played by "Younger" star Sutton Foster. The production was meant to open in 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic. The show finally began performances in late 2021, but then had to be put on hold for several weeks after cast members — including Jackman and Foster — tested positive for COVID-19.

Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness at the opening night of "The Music Man" on Feb. 11, 2022.
Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness at the opening night of "The Music Man" on Feb. 11, 2022.Getty Images

Furness said that after all those travails, it's exciting to see her husband finally march into the Big Apple with his 76 trombones.

"The feeling backstage is incredible. Everyone's really excited and emotional. It's a big deal," Furness, 66, told TODAY on the red carpet before the show. "Hugh's been tap-dancing for a long time in preparation. He's got it now."

While Broadway shows have been performing since August 2021, Furness said that this opening night truly felt unique.

"I'm excited, just as a citizen of New York, to come to the theater, where there's so much energy," Furness added. "It feels like New York has been reinvigorated and I feel like 'The Music Man' is really bringing it back tonight."

While Jackman, 53, is tap-dancing his way through his starring role, Furness said that if she had the opportunity to perform in the show, she'd pick something a little more simple.

"Who would I play? Probably the baritone, one of the quartet," she joked, referencing a small part that doesn't have a name. "I'll be a singer in my next life."

Hugh Jackman and wife Deborra-Lee Furness
Jackman and Furness in 2013. Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Last year, the beloved Hollywood couple celebrated a milestone: their silver wedding anniversary. To mark the occasion, Jackman gushed over Furness in loving posts on social media, complete with a series of throwback photos from their wedding day in 1996.

“Being married to you Deb is as natural as breathing,” Jackman wrote in the caption on Instagram. “From nearly the moment we met ... I knew our destiny was to be together. In our 25 years — our love has only grown deeper. The fun, excitement and adventure more exhilarating; the learning even greater.”

“I’m forever grateful to share our love, our life — and, our family together. We’ve only just begun. Deb, I love you with all my heart!”

Furness wasn't the only one excited to watch Jackman take his opening night bow. Fashion mogul Donna Karan was also in attendance. She and Jackman have known each other for years, and she told TODAY that he was now her neighbor, living just around the corner from her.

"(Jackman) deserves it," she said. "He's the nicest man in the world. He should run for president."

Karan said that while she's excited to celebrate Jackman's star turn, this wasn't the first time she's seen him take a bow on the Great White Way.

"The Music Man" Opening Night
Donna Karen attends the opening night of "The Music Man" at Winter Garden Theatre on Feb. 10, 2022 in New York City.Arturo Holmes / Getty Images

"I first met him when he was wearing a gold sequined shirt of mine when he did his first Broadway show," Karan recalled, referencing Jackman's 2003 Broadway debut in "The Boy From Oz."

Plenty of other stars stepped out to celebrate the opening night of "The Music Man." TODAY spotted Blake Lively stunning in a glamorous purple ensemble, accompanied by husband Ryan Reynolds, while Anne Hathaway made a late appearance on the red carpet in an elegant navy blue outfit. "Law and Order: SVU" star Mariska Hargitay arrived on the carpet in a neutral ensemble and bright blue accessories, while "Watch What Happens Live" host Andy Cohen looked dapper in a classic black suit.

Stars turned out in their Broadway best for the opening of "The Music Man." From left to right: Mariska Hargitay, Blake Lively and Anne Hathaway.
Stars turned out in their Broadway best for the opening of "The Music Man." From left to right: Mariska Hargitay, Blake Lively and Anne Hathaway.AP, Getty Images

New York politicians — including mayor Eric Adams and governor Kathy Hochul — also appeared on the carpet as well. A group of New York City schoolteachers were featured as honored guests, and in the background, a band made up of New York City high school musicians played selections from the show's classic songs.

Show choreographer Warren Carlyle said that he hopes "The Music Man" brings some music to New Yorkers after such a tough couple of years.

"I'm crazy excited. This has been a three-year wait for me," Carlyle said. "I'm ready for tonight. The show is ready. We're ready to spread some joy in New York."