By Jem Aswad
Bruce Springsteen’s top-grossing “Springsteen On Broadway” show will return this summer for a limited run of performances at New York’s St. James Theatre. Shows begin June 26 with additional performances through September 4.
“I loved doing ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ and I’m thrilled to have been asked to reprise the show as part of the reopening of Broadway,” Springsteen said.
The autobiographical show, which ran for more than a year between Oct. 2017 and Dec. 2018, was a Broadway blockbuster, grossing around $108 million across 236 performances. Springsteen earned a Special Tony Award for the performances, which were later adapted into a film and a soundtrack album.
Variety said in its review of an early show: “’Springsteen on Broadway‘ is a kind of live autobiography based on his 2016 memoir, ‘Born to Run’: a series of stories, each capped by a song that suits the theme or events he’s just described. Springsteen defined the show to Variety in an aw-shucks manner — ‘I tell some stories and play some music’ — but it’s actually one of the biggest projects of his career. Having reached virtually every mountaintop a rock star can, at 68 the workaholic singer-songwriter is embarking on another challenge… The opening ‘Growin’ Up’ is followed by ‘My Hometown,’ which is followed by ‘My Father’s House’ (see where he’s going with this?), framing memories of the Holy Trinity of family, church and Jersey that will be familiar, if comparatively rose-colored, to anyone who’s read his book. The Boss specializes in Steinbeck-size statements, and this show is no exception.”
A performance five months later found the same setlist but some of Springsteen’s dialogue changed up and becoming more topical — including veiled criticism of then-President Trump — and it seems likely that for this summer’s shows, which begin in just three weeks, the narrative will be significantly revised to reflect the pandemic and the many changes that have galvanized the nation and the world since Dec. 2018.
Proceeds from Opening Night of “Springsteen on Broadway” at the St. James Theatre will be donated to a group of local New York and New Jersey charities including the Boys and Girls Club of Monmouth County, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Food Bank for New York City, Fulfill (Monmouth & Ocean Counties Foodbank), Long Island Cares, NJ Pandemic Relief Fund and The Actor’s Fund.
The creative team for “Springsteen on Broadway” includes Heather Wolensky (scenic design), Natasha Katz (lighting design) and Brian Ronan (sound design). Audience members will be required to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination in order to enter the theater.
While fans have expected a full E Street Band tour to be announced, the ongoing pandemic has made Springsteen-scale tours difficult — despite the “reopening” across the U.S. and hundreds of concerts and festivals back on the books for late summer and fall, arena tours by major artists will be the last to return.
However, it seems likely that Springsteen, who turns 72 in September, will follow the summer’s Broadway performances with an E Street Band tour in 2022.
A full-band tour seemed all but confirmed in the fall of 2019. “I got to get the band together in the studio, which hopefully we’ll do before the year is out, and you start to make some music and we see what we have, and when we have something we look for places to play that music, and that’s how an E Street Band tour is put together,” Springsteen to USA Today at the time.
However, early last year, bandmembers told the Asbury Park Press that a tour that year was uncertain — and the pandemic soon ruled out any possibility. Last month, guitarist Steven Van Zandt told the “Talking Sopranos” podcast that 2022 seemed likely. “I think probably 2022. That’s what it feels like right now. 2021 is still a little up in the air with this new South African variant. It’s a little hard to predict what the hell is going to happen here. So I think 2022, I hope, is a safer bet.”