Debra L Rothenberg, Getty Images
Springsteen on Broadway — as close as Bruce Springsteen will probably ever come to what the rest of us call a full-time job — held its first preview last night. It was the first of five shows that he will perform weekly for the next 18 weeks. The show officially opens on Oct. 12.
The two-hour musical and spoken-word show — it’s not a concert, promoters stress — will remain consistent throughout the run. Held at the 960-seat Walter Kerr Theatre, a far more intimate setting than the arenas and stadiums Springsteen has played for decades, the show is one of the hottest tickets in town — so hot that Springsteen has already extended performances from the originally planned eight-week run.
“I’ve played ‘Born to Run’ many, many times,” Springsteen recently told The New York Times. “I’m sure if we went on the internet, we could find out how many. But the key is, you have to approach it not as a repetition but as a renewal. And to do that your spirit has got to be 100 percent present. But it’s a new audience every night. There’s new faces, there’s new opportunities. Those songs have been very good to me over the years, and in return, I try to be good to them. So you have a chance of renewing the emotion and the spirit in that music on a nightly basis.
“That’s the place I work to get to every night when I’m onstage,” he continued. “I think that if the foundation of what you’ve built is built well, you’ll be able to inhabit it on a nightly basis and your audience will come in and it will feel like they’re seeing it for the first time. That’s my plan, anyway.”
Clad in his usual black attire, Springsteen opened the show on a somber note, dedicating the performance to his friend and peer, Tom Petty, who died the previous evening. He sent prayers out to Petty’s family and band, the Heartbreakers. Earlier in the day, Springsteen called Petty a “long lost brother,” noting he’d always felt a “deep kinship” with his music, on social media.
Springsteen stuck to his script, sharing recollections and reading passages from his bestselling memoir, Born to Run, as well as performing some of his best-known songs, according to MarketWatch. He kicked things off by discussing his childhood, and how he acquired his first guitar, which he paired with a performance of “Growin Up,” from his 1973 debut Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.
He also shared the impact of reading veteran Ron Kovic’s memoir Born on the Fourth of July before performing his song inspired by it, “Born in the U.S.A.,” and played two songs, “Tougher Than the Rest” and “Brilliant Disguise,” with his wife of more than two decades, singer-songwriter and E Street Band member Patti Scialfa.
“This was a completely different Bruce Springsteen to the one you get in his concerts — he was much more intense and personal on Broadway,” longtime fan Patti Mako told MarketWatch. “I had no idea how much of a thoughtful night this would turn out to be.” Broadway World commenter RussT2 described the experience as “magical. It was just Bruce on a very sparse stage with just a black grand piano, and a few acoustic guitars. The ‘set’ was just a gray wall and a few of those metal touring cases that bands use on the road for their gear. The best parts of the show were when he sat at the piano and sang and talked.”
thank you @springsteen for your imperfectly perfect, honest, beautiful performance. Shining Broadway debut, an honor to experience. Bravo.
— dianepatrone (@dpatrone) October 4, 2017
The entire run of the show is sold out, but 26 $75 seats will be held for a daily lottery.
In addition to the show, Springsteen has also been busy with other projects and appearances. He recently told Variety that he has a completed solo album that’s been in the vaults for several years. “I’ve just been caught up in other projects,” he said. “It’s kind of waiting for its moment. Good music doesn’t go away.”
‘Springsteen on Broadway’ 10/3/17 Set List
1. “Growin’ Up”
2. “My Hometown”
3. “My Father’s House”
4. “The Wish
5. “Thunder Road”
6. “The Promised Land”
7. “Born in the U.S.A.”
8. “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out”
9. “Tougher Than the Rest”
10. “Brilliant Disguise”
11. “Ghost of Tom Joad”
12. “Long Walk Home”
13. “Dancing in the Dark”
14. “Land of Hope and Dreams”
15. “Born to Run”
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