Bruce Springsteen Ushers In Broadway’s Return


When

Bruce Springsteen

arrived on stage at the St. James Theatre shortly after 8 p.m. Saturday night, it marked more than just the New Jersey rocker’s return to Broadway with his autobiographical, largely one-man show.

It marked the long-awaited return of Broadway itself, following an unprecedented 15-month shutdown due to the pandemic.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Mr. Springsteen, seemingly referencing both facts.

It was a sentiment echoed by the hundreds of attendees at the sold-out performance. Many took it a step further and said the event signified the true return of New York City, which has come alive in recent weeks with the easing of pandemic restrictions.

“Everything is busier and busier. A year ago, it was so sad,” said Corey Hendrickson, an avid, 40-year-old theatergoer who already has tickets for many of the other Broadway shows that are slated to return in the coming months, including “Hadestown” and “The Lion King.”

Mr. Springsteen’s show, simply titled “Springsteen on Broadway,” wasn’t much different than the one he presented for a massively successful run from October 2017 to December 2018, an engagement that grossed $113 million over 236 performances and earned the rocker a Tony Award.

Over the course of nearly 2½ hours, Mr. Springsteen told stories, often laced with self-effacing humor, of his working-class upbringing and pathway to becoming a rock star. Along the way, he sang some of his best-known songs, from “Dancing in the Dark” to “Born in the U.S.A,” the latter offered in a dark, blues-infused version that stood in contrast to his original, anthemic one. He was joined by his wife, the singer Patti Scialfa, for a couple of numbers as well.

Mr. Springsteen did update the show to speak briefly about his arrest last year at the Gateway National Recreation Area for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, among other charges. He spoke comically of the matter, including the process of appearing in what he called “Zoom court.” The drunken-driving charges against Mr. Springsteen were dropped earlier this year.

To attend the show, theatergoers had to present proof of vaccination against Covid-19. That decision sparked a protest Saturday night in front of the theater from those who are opposed to requiring such measures.

Georgina Braiman, a 55-year-old Manhattan resident, was among the dozens on hand as part of the protest. She said she and others planned to continue to make their voices heard at other events that require attendees to be vaccinated.

“We should not exclude people,” she said.

Mr. Springsteen’s Broadway engagement is scheduled to continue through Sept. 4.

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