By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated April 30, 2003 01:00 PM

Hugh Jackman will soon be wowing movie audiences in “X-Men 2,” and he plans to follow up on the silver screen with an all-star monster bash in “Van Helsing,” about the most famous vampire-slayer of all.

So won’t Broadway audiences be surprised when he steps into the tap-dancing shoes of famously flamboyant late entertainer Peter Allen?

“The Boy from Oz,” about the gay songwriter who was married to Liza Minnelli (and who died of AIDS in 1992), will open with Jackman, 34, in the title role this fall.

The handsome leading man — one of PEOPLE’s 50 Beautiful People — tells his hometown paper, the Sydney Morning Herald, that when he was starting out his screen career, he kept his musical past in the closet.

“When I did musicals in Australia you never put it on your (resume) when you went for film auditions because it was like the plague,” Jackman said.

“But I think there’s enough of the action hero about Wolverine and Van Helsing to get me through it this time. ‘X-Men 2’ comes out before I go into the show and ‘Van Helsing”s supposed to come out during the run (of ‘Boy From Oz’), so maybe Hollywood will remember I can still commit carnage on a film set.”

Such job requirements demand that Jackman, who frequently removes his shirt in movies, to stay fit. (In fact, in the new “X-2,” he reportedly has a full frontal shot that is discreetly backlit in order to preserve the film’s family rating. “Call me a slut,” said Jackman, “but I thought it was fun.”)

He keeps in shape, says the Herald, by maintaining low-carb, low-fat diet, and he had a gym on the Vancouver set for a daily last-minute, pre-shoot pump on “X-2.”

Jackman, his wife, Deborrah-Lee Furness, 42, and their adopted son, Oscar, 2, spent their Christmas holidays with Furness’s family in Melbourne, which meant a lot of eating, so there went his fine shape.

Fortunately, says the actor, he has his clothes on “most of the time” in “Van Helsing.”