Bruce Springsteen is going to Broadway

Bruce Springsteen, renowned for his high-energy marathon concerts to packed arenas, is dialing it down a notch and heading to Broadway.
Bruce Springsteen, renowned for his high-energy marathon concerts to packed arenas, is dialing it down a notch and heading to Broadway.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK - MetLife Stadium, in East Rutherford, New Jersey, can accommodate well over 50,000 people for a concert. The Walter Kerr Theatre on Broadway is a fraction of that size, with room for just under 1,000.

What they have in common is Bruce Springsteen, who sold out MetLife three times last year and is coming to the Walter Kerr in October for eight weeks of solo shows that he wants to be "as personal and intimate as possible". "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," he said in a statement. "In fact, with one or two exceptions, the 960 seats of the Walter Kerr Theater is probably the smallest venue I've played in the last 40 years."

The show, Springsteen On Broadway, will run five nights a week, Tuesday to Saturday, at the Walter Kerr, the rose-and-gold-decorated jewel box on West 48th Street that last housed the short-lived Amelie: A New Musical. The official opening is set for Oct 12, and the run is planned through Nov 26. Preview performances begin on Oct 3.

In addition to his music, the show will feature Springsteen, 67, reading excerpts from his 2016 autobiography, Born To Run, and performing other spoken reminiscences written for the show.

"My show is just me, the guitar, the piano and the words and music," he said. "Some of the show is spoken, some of it is sung. It loosely follows the arc of my life and my work."

The show has been perhaps the worst-kept secret on Broadway since news of it leaked in June. But one aspect of it has still held some suspense: How would Springsteen, who has had well-documented frustrations with scalpers, handle what will surely be a crushing ticket demand?

The answer is Verified Fan, a new technology from Ticketmaster that is meant to weed out bots and high-volume scalpers from the ticketing-buying process. The system, which Ticketmaster has been using since February, asks prospective buyers to register in advance, and checks users' purchase histories and even social media activity to confirm their legitimacy.

Like everything Ticketmaster does, the system has drawn plenty of gripes online. But the company has been promoting the technology as its best effort to eliminate the plague of online ticket bots, which are now banned by federal law.

According to Ticketmaster, 90 percent of the tickets it has sold through Verified Fan were kept from immediately appearing on secondary markets. But with secondary ticket sales estimated at US$8 billion (S$10.9 billion) a year, that market may never been fully eliminated.

Ticket registration for Springsteen On Broadway begins on Wednesday and will close on Aug 27. Lucky fans will be notified on Aug 29, and the tickets, priced at US$75 to US$850, will go on sale the next day.

For Springsteen, whose last tour with the E Street Band sold an estimated US$268 million in tickets around the world, the show's economics may be less important than the simple lure of playing to fans in close contact. Jon Landau, his longtime manager, said the plans for the show have been in the works since last year.

"Bruce has had this specific idea in mind since last December. It came into focus slowly and then all at once last January," Landau said in a statement.

"All of it together," Springsteen added, "is in pursuit of my constant goal to provide an entertaining evening and to communicate something of value".