by Julian Spivey
Few things will send me on a social media tangent more than people hating on Bruce Springsteen. He’s not just a singer/musician for me, but a hero. Springsteen’s music and words speak for many of us in this country and that’s why he’s built up such a large and loyal fan-base.
Many people obviously loved Springsteen’s performance on the Tony Awards on Sunday, June 10 where he performed “My Hometown” and a monologue about his hometown of Freehold, N.J. that inspired it. The performance from start-to-finish was only six-and-a-half minutes of a three-hour broadcast, but apparently that was far too long for some people who bitched and moaned about how the monologue never seemed to end. Many others couldn’t understand why he was even giving the monologue in the first place – apparently many don’t realize the reason he was being honored with a special Tony for his contributions to Broadway this year is because “Springsteen On Broadway” isn’t just a concert, but an intimate one-man show about the stories and inspiration behind his music.
Many people were curious as to why Springsteen was even on the Tony Awards at all. These people are apparently oblivious to the fact that “Springsteen On Broadway” is literally one of the biggest, if not the biggest, hits and sellers on Broadway this year. By the time the show’s run, which has been extended multiple times, ends in mid-December it would have sold out more than 200 shows, which isn’t bad for something that initially was supposed to last only eight weeks. “Springsteen On Broadway” may be a little different than what Broadway is accustomed to, but it had every right to be featured on Broadway’s biggest night as award-winning “The Band’s Visit” or “Once on This Island.” As The New York Times said of Springsteen’s show: “as portraits of artists go, there may never have been anything as real – and beautiful – on Broadway. “The Boss” might not be a theater kid (which I honestly think is where some of this juvenile hatred is coming from), but he proved to be just as eloquent and artistic as anything else I saw on the night – one of Broadway’s biggest musicals of the year is based on the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon for god sake. Not exactly high-brow stuff.
My question is why can’t theater kids – and I’m talking about ones that range from current teens on Twitter all the way up to grown adults like Neil Patrick Harris throwing shade at Springsteen via social media – accept Springsteen? I don’t even think I can begin to make a guess as to why, but I do know this Springsteen lover is also a fan of live theater performances and, though primarily tuned in on Sunday to see his hero, thoroughly enjoyed multiple performances showcased, especially the number from “The Band’s Visit.”
On a night where many involved in the theater community talk about diversity and how great Broadway is when it comes to such many fans seemed unwilling to get behind a different kind of live show taking Broadway by storm. That’s unfortunate, because Springsteen has done a lot of great things both monetarily and exposure wise for Broadway, and that includes undoubtedly bringing many more eyes to the Tony Awards than normally would have tuned in, especially in a year without a massive juggernaut like “Hamilton.”
I loved Springsteen’s monologue and truly hope that “Springsteen On Broadway” is going to be filmed and shown one day on television or via DVD and hope that a Broadway recording is released for those of us not financially capable of traveling to Broadway to see it in person. Though, as he is my hero I’d love just about anything Springsteen does. If you don't, fine, it's your loss.