By Scott T. Sterling
President Obama’s parting gift to his White House staff was a private Bruce Springsteen performance. The intimate setting inspired “The Boss” to take his act to Broadway.
Springsteen has revealed to the New York Times how that Jan. 12 gig in the East Room for about 250 Obama staffers was the catalyst for Springsteen on Broadway, which previews at the 960-seat Walter Kerr Theater on Oct. 3 and runs through February.
Creating a special career-spanning setlist and sharing the stories behind them during the performance, Springsteen began to hone what would become his Broadway show.
“There was a lot of storytelling, which goes back to our early days at the Bottom Line when you were in front of a couple of hundred people,” he explained. “It worked in a very, very intimate setting.”
Springsteen went to on to compare his Broadway show to his 2005 appearance on VH1 Storytellers: “That would be the closest thing to what I’m doing now. When I did the VH1 thing, Elvis Costello came up to me later and said, ‘Gee, it created some third entity.’ And that’s what I’m interested in doing with the show. I’m playing familiar music, but I believe it will lead you to hear it with very fresh ears by the context that I set it in. I always make a comment that when things are working in art, one plus one equals three.”
Praising Hamilton and Sting’s The Last Ship as recent Broadway shows he’s enjoyed, Springsteen let it slip that he has new music on deck, but gave no indication as to when it might see the light of day.
“I’ve finished a record,” he revealed. “I had some inspiration. When you’re locked into a period of creativity it’s very similar to being hungry all the time. You have an appetite to write.”