What’s Connection Got to Do with Hugh Jackman and Covid?

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As I try to make peace with how much Covid disrupted the end of 2021, I wonder how you are faring. Over and over again, what I hear is sadness, regret, and resignation for the lost connections. Here are just a few stories my friends and family shared in the last few weeks:

“For the second year in a row, I didn’t get to see my parents during the holidays.”

“My trip home was a no-go after my flight was cancelled on Christmas day.”

“Will this ever end? My school just announced we are not going back in person this semester.”

“No matter what I do, I can’t seem to lift my spirits when I can’t see my friends.”

It’s true that we are living through the unimaginable again and trying to find a point on the horizon that looks more promising. The roller coaster of emotions with the good news/bad news stories that keep coming our way is jolting.

How do we manage to stay mentally healthy?

Hugh Jackman Said It Best

On Thursday evening, Dec. 23rd, I was feeling just a little bit sorry for myself. You see, I had tickets to see Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster in previews for The Music Man. As the wave of Omicron cases kept accelerating in New York City, I had a choice to make… go to the show or cancel and reduce my risk of getting sick. Given that my daughter’s wedding was planned halfway across the country for Dec. 31st, I chose the latter option and cancelled my tickets.

The day after, I learned that Sutton Foster, who plays the leading lady role, had tested positive for Covid and had to leave the show the night I was scheduled to see it. The understudy/swing — who had NEVER rehearsed the role with the company –went on stage with Hugh Jackman. His tribute to her after the show was exactly the positive message I needed to hear.

In part, here is what he said to the audience:

“I want to pay tribute to Kathy, my leading lady tonight. She is the understudy and also knows eight parts in the show. She found out when she came to work at noon today that she would be going on as leading lady…This is unprecedented. Not only is it happening here at this theater, it is happening all over Broadway. This is a time we have never known. I am emotional because it humbles me…the courage, the brilliance, the dedication, the talent. All heroes do not wear capes! Thank you for opening your hearts.” 

What a class act Hugh Jackman is. Even as he acknowledged that the crowd had to be disappointed not to see Sutton Foster, he recognized the enormous accomplishment of his replacement leading lady, Kathy. And he didn’t stop there. He called all the understudies and swings to center stage and thanked them for their hard work.

With that gracious gesture, Hugh Jackman created a connection moment for the audience. He demonstrated how being a connector means honoring the importance of relationships. Guaranteed that no one in that cast or audience will ever forget what he said or that they were present to hear his remarks!

How We Can Find Connection During Covid

As Hugh Jackman acknowledged that our best choice is always to choose bravery, he gave us a template for moving forward in impossible situations. What is that solution? To look for concrete ways to build connection by honoring relationships in our lives.

The reemergence of worry during the holidays over getting sick or infecting others has had the power to shut us down. But when we reflect on what we are inspired by or grateful for, we can step outside of our own fear and isolation and focus on others.

Who inspires me that I can connect with and thank?

  • Health care workers and their unrelenting commitment to keeping us safe
  • Educators who work at finding creative ways to teach in person and remotely
  • Essential workers who provide the seamless day-to-day functioning of our world
  • Friends who offer encouragement and support
  • Family who give us hope and direction

Write to me at Ann@AnnLouden.com and tell me how you are finding ways to connect with those who inspire you, especially during this time. Our connectedness is what will always keep us moving forward. Our connectedness is what will always keep our hearts open.



  • Ann Louden

    A seasoned executive in the nonprofit world, Ann Louden is the founder and CEO of Ann Louden Strategy and Consulting. Recognized for her expertise in fund raising, high profile special events, and campaign planning, Ann provides counsel to chief executives, staff, and volunteer leadership. Ann’s primary interest areas are education, health care for women and children, the arts, and adoption. As a cancer survivor, she led and was the twelve-year spokesperson for a breast cancer advocacy initiative that engaged thousands of survivors, volunteers and medical providers. With a mantra of bringing big ideas to life, Ann focuses on identifying a compelling vision and creating a goals-oriented plan for execution. An in-demand national speaker for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Ann is the recipient of the Steuben Excellence in Teaching Award and has been named as a CASE Laureate. She is the author of the upcoming book: From Social Courage to Connection: Lessons from Leaders Who Change and Save Lives. You can find her at www.AnnLouden.com.

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