Several hundred people got free coffee at Gallivan Center on Thursday morning. What they didn't get was a glimpse of Hugh Jackman.
The star of everything from “X-Men” to “Les Miserables” to “The Greatest Showman” was a no-show, although his people never confirmed that he’d be there handing out cups of his Laughing Man coffee. But he’d been making a habit of it at cities on the tour — in Boston, Chicago, Dallas and, just a day earlier, in Denver.
He’s been autographing paper coffee cups as he hands them out to fans. And he’s posted pictures and videos of himself on social media, passing out coffee from inside the Laughing Man truck.
That didn’t happen in Salt Lake City.
(Unofficial word was that Jackman arrived late Wednesday night after performing in Denver. And he does have a 7 p.m. performance at the Vivint Smart Home Arena on Thursday.)
Local fans started arriving at Gallivan almost two hours before the Laughing Man truck opened its window and started serving cups of joe at 7 a.m. Whitney Tyler of Salt Lake City, got on the first TRAX train at 5 a.m. and got to the Gallivan Center about 5:15.
“My mom was obsessed with [Jackman] so I grew up watching everything he was in," she said.
Mandy Boully of Murray got there at the same time and was anxiously awaiting a possible Jackman appearance.
“I’m hoping he comes before I have to go,” she said. “My work wants me there by 8:30, but if he’s not here by then I might have to get in trouble.”
Sisters Jazelle and Makiya Johns drove up from St. George, and they didn’t get up early to be in line, they just never went to bed.
“We've been up all night,” Jazelle Johns said. “We drove down and just hung out, and came here about 6.”
All for naught. Well, except that they have tickets to the Thursday night concert.
And the coffee.
“It was good coffee,” said Samantha Shipley.
“Really good coffee,” agreed Clark Jensen.
They drove down from Layton “because we were curious,” Jensen said. “It was something to do.”
“It would have been nice to see him, but we’re not that disappointed,” Shipley said.
On a trip to Ethiopia in 2009, Jackman met a young coffee farmer trying to lift his family out of poverty, and he was inspired to provide a way for farmers to sell their products in the United States. He created the Laughing Man brand and the Laughing Man Foundation in 2011.
A portion of Laughing Man coffee sales “supports coffee farming communities and programs that clear the way to sustainable health, growth, and success for coffee farmers and their families,” according to the foundation. And Laughing Man will make a donation to the foundation for every cup handed out in each city Jackman visits on the tour.
His opening act on Thursday and Friday is Keala Settle, who’s perhaps best known for her performance of the Oscar-nominated song “This Is Me” in “The Greatest Showman.” Settle is a graduate of Southern Utah University.