Springsteen on Broadway: Where 1+1 = 3

Since last fall, Bruce Springsteen, the Boss, has been working his first real job in quite some time: five nights a week at the Walter Kerr Theater. “Springsteen on Broadway” was a difficult concept to swallow at first. For the songwriter who gained his following in dive bars along the Jersey Shore, who became a saint for the working-class, whose songs provided inclusion for many who felt cast-aside post the age of industrialization, the theater setting—and all of its qualms—seems immediately controversial.

But each night of “Springsteen on Broadway” has succeeded. The shows amount to this palpable “third entity” Springsteen and his contemporaries allude to all the time: the magic of storytelling and song coming together, of art really working, of 1+1 = 3.

There are several lifelong Springsteen fans and concert goers in any given audience of “Springsteen on Broadway”. But let us be clear: This is not a concert, nor is it a traditional, narrative driven Broadway show or musical. “Springsteen on Broadway” is 50/50 music and storytelling, the material derived from his 2016 autobiography Born to Run. 

Bruce Springsteen

The idea emerged after Springsteen’s moving performance at The White House, his parting gift to the Obamas. The East Room accommodated the acoustic concert, with just 250 staffers present. Springsteen illuminated his carefully chosen setlist with anecdotes and memories, creating an intimate look at the landscape of his career. It was this once in a lifetime performance—laden with emotion and an inherent political tension—that inspired Springsteen to take on Broadway, to spend a month performing for the number of fans he could draw at one arena show.

“Springsteen on Broadway” is a one man show, with the exception of bandmate and wife Patti Scialfa joining him for two songs from 1987’s Tunnel of Love. Once seated in Walter Kerr, awaiting the first song—Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J‘s “Growin Up”—it is immediately apparent this isn’t an occasion for singing along, hollering, or standing up. It’s a place for quiet and dedicated reception. Of allowing Springsteen to deliver his stories and be met with focused, yet ardent appreciation.

In the past, Springsteen’s storytelling interludes have been both a subject of mirth and mockery. It was parodied by Ben Stiller on Saturday Night Live, where Stiller plays Springsteen in an ad for Bruce Springsteen: Just the Stories, “a complete collection of the stories Bruce tells in between songs.”

At Walter Kerr, Springsteen’s stories are arguably the main attraction. Unlike the concert setting, a public reaction is discouraged, allowing inherently somber tales to carry their full weight, to land in a way that moves. Like The Boss’s famous memory of running away with a few friends for several days after they all got their draft notices and finally returning home to report to his disapproving father that he’d failed his physical. On Live 1975-85his first live album, this anecdote is met cheering fans. To which he responds: “That’s nothing to applaud about.”

At Walter Kerr, the quietude reigns. The stories are heard.

“Springsteen on Broadway” runs for about two hours, with no intermission. This is a weird change of pace for those who are used to seeing Bruce Springsteen live, performing 30-35 songs, clocking in around 4 hours, with an intermission around 80 minutes in. Though this is definitely Springsteen in a new form, The Boss hasn’t lost his performance fluidity, his talent for providing shape to a show.

In an interview with The New York Times, Springsteen says, “That’s what I’ve spent my life doing. That was a big piece of the craft. If you came up in our generation of musicians, you were mentored by the great craftsmen of how do you make a show move, how do you make a show go. Sam Moore from Sam & Dave, and of course James Brown, those were the great masters of momentum and how you keep a show going. And that moves over to an acoustic show. It has to have its rhythms.”

Bruce Springsteen

But how does one justify paying—on average—twice as much as a Bruce Springsteen concert ticket, for a show not nearly as long? The answer is simple. “Springsteen on Broadway” is the penultimate experience of this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, where fans can visually and sonically chart the mileage that a 68 year old musician can bring to a song he wrote at 22. It’s the only place where 1+1 = 3.

“Springsteen on Broadway” will continue its run through December 15th. Check out the list of dates and “Springsteen on Broadway” tickets below, in addition to the “Springsteen on Broadway” setlist The Boss himself released last Fall.

Date
Event
May 28:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1321
May 38:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $2173
May 48:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $950
May 58:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1482
May 88:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1477
May 98:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1243
May 108:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
May 118:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1516
May 128:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1709
May 168:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1194
May 178:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
May 188:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1839
May 198:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1368
May 228:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
May 238:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1408
May 248:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1408
May 258:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1600
May 268:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1173
May 308:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1117
May 318:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
Jun 18:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
Jun 28:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1367
Jun 58:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1000
Jun 68:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1450
Jun 78:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1430
Jun 88:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $912
Jun 98:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1299
Jun 138:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1083
Jun 148:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $981
Jun 158:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1118
Jun 168:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1148
Jun 198:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1130
Jun 208:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1144
Jun 218:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1412
Jun 228:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1295
Jun 238:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1406
Jun 278:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1034
Jun 288:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1331
Jun 298:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1051
Jun 308:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1277
Jul 108:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
Jul 118:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
Jul 128:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
Jul 138:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1344
Jul 148:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1008
Jul 208:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
Jul 218:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $946
Jul 248:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1524
Jul 258:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1675
Jul 268:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1456
Jul 278:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $992
Aug 88:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
Aug 98:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1120
Aug 108:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
Aug 118:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1055
Aug 148:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1253
Aug 158:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1253
Aug 168:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1139
Aug 178:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1055
Aug 188:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $839
Aug 228:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $952
Aug 238:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1220
Aug 248:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $950
Aug 258:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $841
Aug 288:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1200
Aug 298:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1253
Aug 308:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $847
Aug 318:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $997
Sep 48:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1008
Sep 58:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1064
Sep 68:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
Sep 78:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1379
Sep 268:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
Sep 278:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
Sep 288:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1051
Sep 298:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1119
Oct 28:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
Oct 38:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1120
Oct 48:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
Oct 58:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
Oct 68:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1652
Oct 108:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
Oct 118:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
Oct 128:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $841
Oct 138:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1511
Oct 168:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1557
Oct 178:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1464
Oct 188:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $999
Oct 198:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $946
Oct 208:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1000
Oct 248:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1264
Oct 258:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1125
Oct 268:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1051
Oct 278:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1148
Oct 308:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1007
Oct 318:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1703
Nov 18:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1232
Nov 28:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $996
Nov 38:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1115
Nov 78:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1232
Nov 88:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1436
Nov 98:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $789
Nov 108:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $775
Nov 138:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1051
Nov 148:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $894
Nov 158:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $999
Nov 168:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $999
Nov 178:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1288
Nov 288:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $684
Nov 298:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1007
Nov 308:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $894
Dec 18:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1120
Dec 48:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1724
Dec 58:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $841
Dec 68:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1042
Dec 78:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $912
Dec 88:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1094
Dec 128:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $895
Dec 138:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1160
Dec 148:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $1428
Dec 158:00 PMSpringsteen on BroadwayWalter Kerr Theatre – New York, NYFrom $2166

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