Bruce Springsteen's Starry Broadway Opening Draws Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Edward Norton
The stars were certainly born to run to the opening of Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway show. Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Edward Norton, Tina Fey, Jon Stewart, NBC News chief Noah Oppenheim, Brian Williams, Jimmy Iovine, Tommy Mottola, Thalia, Nathan Lane, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Steven Van Zandt were among those who were able to nab hot tickets to Springsteen on Broadway on Thursday night. The famous fans capped the evening with an intimate party with the Boss at New York City’s Polo Bar (while the rest of the show’s guests gathered at the massive Hard Rock Cafe).
During the opening-night performance of the two-hour musical memoir, the seasoned singer combined excerpts from his best-selling 2016 autobiography Born to Run with 15 songs from his back catalog — tunes which many devout ticketholders knew by heart and felt compelled to sing and clap along. However, as in previews, Springsteen very briefly paused "Dancing in the Dark" to tell the audience with a laugh, "I'll handle this myself." The audience applauded loudly after a section paying tribute on the late E Street Band member Clarence Clemons, as well as a brief reflection on the political scene and the recent resurgence of torch-bearing racial hatred ("I believe that what we're seeing now is just a bad chapter in the ongoing battle for the soul of the nation," he said). His curtain call was met with the “Bruce!” chants reminiscent of his arena shows, as well as a lengthy standing ovation (though there was no encore number, despite widespread hope for one).
The production sees Springsteen playing guitar, piano and harmonica, and singing duets with his wife, Patti Scialfa. It first grew out of an acoustic concert at the White House in the final weeks of the Obama administration, and virtually sold out its four-month run at the Walter Kerr Theatre almost instantly, grossing a massive $2,332,108 in its first week of previews. Given that the show is playing only five performances per week, in a theater with a seating capacity of 939, its hefty average ticket price of $497 means that on a seat-by-seat basis, Springsteen on Broadway is even outselling Hamilton — Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster is running in a 1,321-seat house, with an average ticket last week of $272.
Springsteen on Broadway — which The Hollywood Reporter's review called "a beautifully crafted reflection on his life, his career and his country, and reinventing even some last-chance-power-drive anthems as hymns of quiet introspection" — has been extended through Feb. 3. Theater pundits are now busy speculating if and how the production will figure in this season’s Tony Awards next June. An early report emerged in The New York Post that the Tony Nominating Committee saw the show in previews and was sufficiently impressed to start buzz circulating about a possible special award.
But there’s also a chance that the scripted show might be made eligible in competitive categories, provided producers can find a way to accommodate 800-plus Tony voters — traditionally with plus-ones. Springsteen is credited as writer and director on the show, meaning he could in theory be a contender for Book and Direction of a Musical. Either way, the prospect of a Springsteen performance on the Tony Awards telecast will be catnip to CBS.
This article originally appeared in THR.com.