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‘Springsteen on Broadway’ Opening: Don’t Clap Along With The Boss

“I’ll handle it myself, thanks.”

That was The Boss himself, jovially dressing down the few people in his Broadway audience who had begun to clap along to “Dancer in the Dark.” This wasn’t a rock concert in an arena, after all. This was the opening night of Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway show, “Springsteen on Broadway.”

The moment was scripted, it turns out — by the end of the night reports of it had showed up in critics’ reviews of previous performances — but it was pretty funny anyway, on a night when the starry crowd at the Oct. 12 opening was supremely well-behaved. Tina Fey, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Jimmy Iovine, Tommy Mottola, NBC News’ embattled president Noah Oppenheim and Brian Williams were all among the flock who turned out.

There was no standing and singing along, no waving of lighters overhead. There were shouts of “Bruce!,” but even those were relatively restrained.

Still, no one seemed disappointed. Even tightly scripted as it was, the evening played as an intimate tour of Springsteen’s biography, interpolating songs that touched on his parents, his home town and his youthful trek west in search of his big break. “Born in the U.S.A.” was so changed from the original it was downright experimental, but acoustic versions of “10th Avenue Freeze-Out,” “Born to Run” and “Dancing in the Dark” kept fans happy.

There were plenty more fans all along 48th Street, too, as crowds — most of whom weren’t in the house that night — jostled for a glimpse of Springsteen after the show. They got what they wanted, too: The Boss gave them all a wave from the backseat of a slow-moving SUV as he drove away.

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