NEW YORK — What would Walter Kerr think?
It’s a safe bet that Kerr’s name will mean nothing to many of the Bruce Springsteen fans who, starting Tuesday, will be filling the 975 seats of the Broadway theater on West 48th Street that honors the late, great drama critic for the New York Herald Tribune and the New York Times. And that in itself seems only fitting. For the arrival at the Walter Kerr Theatre of “Springsteen on Broadway” — an all but sold-out five-nights-a-week stand running (at this point) through Feb. 3 — is in its way a revolutionary convergence for Broadway, a blending of theater and rock-star concertizing of a magnitude unlike anything the Great White Way has ever hosted.
For sure, rock long ago solidified its impact on the music of Broadway, all the way back to “Hair” in the 1960s, and then through a variety of artists, including the Who (“Tommy”) Elton John (“The Lion King”), Paul Simon (“The Capeman”), Cyndi Lauper (“Kinky Boots”), Abba (“Mamma Mia!”), Bono and the Edge (“Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark”) and Sting (“The Last Ship”). The list goes on and on. And tribute shows such as “Beatlemania,” and jukebox musicals such as “Jersey Boys,” many with special appeal to nostalgic baby boomers, created hybrid new avenues for musical theater — while generating new financial goodies for the writers of oldies.
But “Springsteen on Broadway” represents yet another kind of trailblazing crossover. Here is a superstar — a veritable rock-and-roll messiah to some of his followers — who’s committing at least the next four months to a Broadway residency, a length of stay unheard of for a rock singer-songwriter of his fame and reach. In other entertainment meccas, such visitations have occurred: Celine Dion made a famous long-term commitment to Las Vegas, for instance. Broadway, though, has resisted becoming an extended personal-appearance platform for the rock-and-role elite, a fact that makes Springsteen’s decision all the more intriguing.
Read more at The Washington Post.