On Tuesday night Bruce Springsteen played the first in what is expected to be the final run of his “Springsteen on Broadway” one-man show — and he observed the occasion by playing the first encore in all of the 150-odd times he’s performed the show.
“You’ve been a beautiful audience, thanks for everything — you’re so good you guys get the first encore ever!” he told the sold-out crowd at the at the Walter Kerr Theatre.
“This is from Patti ’cause she wasn’t here tonight,” Springsteen said, referencing to his wife, Patti Scialfa, who is his only accompanist during the show, usually performing “Tougher Than the Rest” and “Brilliant Disguise” with him. “She said ‘Feel free to take a picture,’” which is ordinarily prohibited during the show.
While the song the audience got was the deep cut “This Hard Land” — a “Born in the U.S.A.” outtakes that was released on later compilations — rather than a hit like, say, “Glory Days,” the reaction from the crowd was ecstatic.
The artist announced in March that “Springsteen on Broadway” will be extended until Dec. 15, with 81 shows beginning on July 10. It marked the third time the show has been extended since its initial eight-week run. The show received a special Tony Award last month.
The wording of the announcement seemed to leave open the possibility that Springsteen could perform the show elsewhere: At various points it reads “December 15th to be the final show of Broadway run” and references “a final New York City show on Dec. 15.” In an interview with Variety in September shortly before the show’s Oct. 3 launch, Springsteen left the show’s end point open — “Whether there’ll be more [shows added after the initial 16-week run] I’m not sure, we’ll have to see how I feel” — and that seems to have been his approach throughout.
In a review of the show’s 95th-or-so performance earlier in March, Variety noted, “Five months [into the run], the Boss is showing seasoning and increased comfort as well as some understandable, unsurprising impatience with his latest creation. … at points on this night his delivery felt a little worn, but those moments were far outnumbered by ones that took on shadings and emotions that have evolved as he’s settled into the show. He’s changed up the script without deviating from its main points, and rarely used the teleprompters that he relied upon heavily during the early shows. But most of all, his performance has become more, well, theatrical. After decades of arena-sized body language, he’s scaled himself down without losing any of his enormous presence — his body has learned a new language. He’s figured out how to be larger-than-life in a small place: He’s learned the power of stillness, how to use pauses for dramatic and comic effect, and how to use his body almost as a set piece and secondary — and at times a primary — form of communication.”
“Springsteen on Broadway” began previews on October 3rd, 2017 and officially opened October 12th. The extension will bring the total number of “Springsteen on Broadway” performances to 236.