NEW YORK -- After performing for nine months on Broadway, Bruce Springsteen decided to change the script on Tuesday night for New York’s hottest ticket.
He felt compelled to react to the news of the day. Without going into details about the U.S. government separating immigrant children from their parents, he called it “shockingly and disgracefully un-American. It’s simply enraging.”
Never one to hesitate to speak his mind – even in a scripted blockbuster on Broadway, he quoted Martin Luther King: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
Then he added: “The arc doesn’t bend on its own.” He said it’s our responsibility.
“I’ve played this show 146 times with the same set list,” the Boss continued. “Tonight calls for something different.”
On his acoustic guitar with a harmonica rack around his neck, he then launched into 1995’s “Ghost of Tom Joad,” a remarkably harrowing, haunting reading, his face dramatically cast in shadows.
The inclusion of this political moment was a striking departure in a show that is primarily soul-searchingly autobiographical.
Even though it seemed like Springsteen was winging it with another one of his typically thoughtful, impassioned state-of-the-union commentaries, the words were written in advance and projected on his Teleprompter at the Walter Kerr Theatre.
For the record, he’d performed “Ghost of Tom Joad” a couple of other times during his Broadway run when his wife, Patti Scialfa, who has a small role in this one-man show, was ill. She joined him for two songs on Tuesday, as she has on most nights.
“Springsteen on Broadway” – for which the Boss recently received a special Tony Award -- continues through December. All shows are sold out.