Variety is reporting that Hugh Jackman has dropped out of the Houdini Broadway musical. The article by Gordon Cox says:
Hugh Jackman has stepped away from the upcoming Broadway musical “Houdini,” citing the scheduling demands of developing a new tuner as the cause of his departure from a project to which he’s been attached, both formally and informally, for several years now.
“I have greatly enjoyed the collaborative process on ‘Houdini,’” the actor said in a statement. “Ultimately, though, I wasn’t able to commit to the time this role will require. I have tremendous respect and admiration for the creative team and I wish everyone the best. I know they’re well on their way to making something extraordinary.”
Of the actor’s departure, producer Scott Sanders said in a statement, “Hugh has been terrific to have on this part of our journey. We will continue to move forward with our remarkable creative team as they craft this ambitious new musical.”
Variety optimistically speculates that:
Although the thesp’s exit takes the heat down a tick, the brewing tuner will still be closely watched since it’s the latest project from composer Stephen Schwartz, whose last musical, “Wicked,” has been one of the Rialto’s top grossers for a decade now.
If there’s a silver lining to Jackman ankling his role, it’s that producers won’t be saddled with a property that would likely be indelibly linked to Jackman in tickeybuyers’ minds, thereby making casting his eventual replacement an enormously difficult task.
Can't say this is a surprise. It's been clear that this project was on the ropes after Aaron Sorkin left the project in early 2013. The Houdini Broadway musical has been in the works since 2008.