The Boss On Broadway: Bruce Springsteen On His ‘First Real Job’

“Springsteen on Broadway.” For the songwriter who rose from bar gigs on the Jersey Shore to become a symbol of empathy for working-class America, who has been playing arenas for nearly four decades, the simple juxtaposition seems like a clash of scale and style. Is this an intimate concert, or a theatrical event? Mr. Springsteen says it’s something else, and that an extended Broadway residency is the statement he wants to make now.

It started at the White House. On Jan. 12, in the last weeks of the Obama administration, Mr. Springsteen played an acoustic concert in the East Room as the Obama family’s parting gift for about 250 staffers. For Mr. Springsteen, who takes every performance seriously, it was a moment of reckoning. He carefully assembled a set list spanning his career; he illuminated the songs with spoken stories and memories echoing “Born to Run,” the autobiography he published in 2016.

“There was a lot of storytelling, which goes back to our early days at the Bottom Line when you were in front of a couple of hundred people,” Mr. Springsteen said in an interview at his home studio in Colts Neck, N.J., recalling the Greenwich Village club where his shows in summer 1975 became a sensation. “It worked in a very, very intimate setting.”

Heading home from Washington, Mr. Springsteen and his wife, Patti Scialfa, and his manager, Jon Landau, thought more people should experience a performance like that. “The way he combines the spoken words with the songs he’s chosen to do sounds like a very simple thing,” Mr. Landau said. “But it’s a real piece of performance art.”

The result, nine months later, is “Springsteen on Broadway,” which begins previews Oct. 3 and continues, five nights a week, through February. The show will be staged at the 960-seat Walter Kerr Theater, which was built in 1929 and has been the home of more Pulitzer and Tony-winning productions than any other Broadway theater. It will take Mr. Springsteen a month to perform for the number of fans he could draw at one arena show.

Thinking that only Broadway could offer the kind of elegant, intimate experience they were looking for, Mr. Springsteen and Mr. Landau scouted theaters available from all three of the major Broadway owners — Shubert, Nederlander and Jujamcyn — before deciding on Jujamcyn’s Walter Kerr, one of the smallest. “They were really connecting with all angles of it — trying seats in all different locations, standing on the stage, coming back multiple times,” said Jordan Roth, the president of Jujamcyn Theaters.

In Broadway terms, Mr. Springsteen is planning a one-man show; unlike his arena marathons, he’ll be onstage for two hours with a baby grand piano and an “array of guitars,” he said. But he intends to offer something different from a typical concert, where the songs and spoken words will add up to what he calls a “third entity.”

Read more HERE from the New York Times article.

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