Broadway has a new Boss.
Bruce Springsteen’s four-month run at the Walter Kerr Theater is sold out and his first preview week raked in more than $2.3 million.
Fans are flocking from all over the world to see Springsteen perform solo at the 960-seat theater. The New Jersey-born rocker, who usually hosts marathon arena shows, is toning it down for Broadway with a mix of acoustic music and storytelling.
After starting with previews on Oct. 3, the show officially opened on Thursday night.
“I’m a huge Springsteen fan and to have an opportunity to see him in this environment and to hear his stories and acoustic songs is just an experience I don’t think I will have another opportunity to have,” said Brenda Menard, who traveled from Montreal just to attend Wednesday night’s preview performance.
Bruce buddies Monica Odefey and Ruth Wagner flew to New York City from their homes in Denmark and Austria to attend opening night. Both stood in the rain on West 48th Street hoping to catch a glimpse of Springsteen as he entered the theater on Wednesday.
“This is a special occasion,” Odefey said. “It’s a small intimate theater, it’s going to be great.”
In a message on his website, Springsteen said with one or two exceptions, the Walter Kerr Theatre is probably the smallest venue he has played in 40 years.
“I chose Broadway for this project because it has the beautiful old theaters which seemed like the right setting for what I have in mind,” Springsteen wrote on his website.
Springsteen said the show “loosely follows the arc of my life and my work. All of it together is in pursuit of my constant goal to provide an entertaining evening and to communicate something of value.”
“It kind of makes sense, he’s an American tradition and Broadway is an American tradition,” said Laurence F. Maslon, a theater historian and arts professor at New York University. “Rock composers have written for Broadway. But for someone to perform their own material on Broadway is pretty rare. This is his cultural moment.”
Tickets range from $75 to $850. Fans had to go through an online verification process to get the chance to purchase tickets. For each performance, several $75 tickets will be available through an online lottery.
Despite efforts to get the tickets in the hands of fans, brokers were selling seats for upward of $1,000. On Thursday, StubHub was asking $1,540 for a ticket to the Nov. 4 show.
Focused on tales of hardscrabble, working class life, Springsteen launched his recording career with “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” in 1973. But the Freehold native found commercial success in 1975 when “Born to Run” was released, which featured backing from his E Street Band.
The album featured songs that would become Springsteen classics: “Thunder Road,” “Jungleland” and the title track “Born to Run.”
His popularity has continued through the decades, sparking a devoted fan base.
“He always delivers, no matter what he does,” said Howie Chaz, who lives in Brooklyn and runs the fan group Spring-Nuts. “He never mails it in. He cares about his fans. Sometimes we could swear that Bruce has written a song specifically with (us) in mind. It’s as if he knows what we are going through or what we are thinking.”
During preview shows this week, fans gathered outside the theater — rain or shine — hoping to find tickets and see Springsteen before the show.
“In my wholly biased opinion, he’s one of the greatest storytellers ever to be recorded,” said Steven Strauss, a writer who lives on the Upper West Side. “So many of his songs recount the lives of characters that feel as real as the people listening. As such, their stories serve as sort of modern-day-yet-timeless parables from which to learn life lessons.”
Fan Suzanne D.T. Lovett of Scarsdale said Springsteen has a “magical effect.”
“For the longtime fans, he wrote the soundtrack of their youth,” she said. “For the newer fans, they find salvation and meaning in his lyrics. For all fans, a Springsteen show is like a revival.”