Union College Theater Department Stages 13 Short Plays on Springsteen Songs

springsteen union

This looks great.  I wish I could get up to Union College to see this.  Here is the press release:

“When the Promise Was Broken” is a collection of 13 plays inspired by the songs of Bruce Springsteen, each by a different American playwright. 

The 90-minute production pieces together nine plays in a seamless evening that celebrates the all too human experience of longing, heartbreak and promises broken in working life, relationships, families and the American dream.

Performances run at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7 through Saturday, Feb. 9 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10 in Yulman Theatre. Tickets are $10 for general admissions and $7 with a Union ID, alumni and seniors. 

“For over 45 years, Bruce Springsteen’s music, lyrics and performances have been an ongoing conversation with his audiences worldwide,” said Joan Herrington, editor of the production. 

Director Patricia Culbert, senior artist-in-residence for the College’s Theatre Department, stated: “When I first read through the plays eventually chosen for our production, I made note of the central themes, looking for the linkages.” 

“These pieces are remarkably light in touch, enormously funny in many places and recognizably human in the searching, the yearning, the need for community and hope and redemption and forgiveness and opportunity,” Culbert added. 

Stage manager for the production is Matthew Dulchinos ‘20. The plays include: 

“Valhalla Correctional” by Peter Ullian, inspired by “We Take Care of Our Own” 

Cast: Helen Smith ‘22 and Etienne-Marcel Giannelli ‘20

“Bloody River” by Elaine Romero, inspired by “American Skin” 

Cast: Amber Birt ‘22, Haoyu (John) Jiang ’21 and Rochelle Nuqui ‘22

“Object Permanence” by Jennifer Blackmer, inspired by “Terry’s Song” 

Cast: Dan Gottlieb ‘19 and Aly Silbey ‘20

“Drive All Night” by Steven Dietz, inspired by “Drive All Night” 

Cast: Chloe Savitch ’22, Helen Smith ’22 and Zachary Christian ‘20

“A Semi-Autobiographical Response to Feelings of Sexual Inadequacy Prompted by Repeatedly Listening to Bruce Springsteen’s ‘I’m On Fire’ for Four Hours Straight” by Gregory S. Moss, inspired by “I’m On Fire” 

Cast: Haoyu (John) Jiang ’21, Sarah White ’21, Sophie Hurwitz ’21 and Abdul Raafey Shoukat ‘22

“Gospel Hour” by Dan and Drew Caffrey, inspired by “State Trooper” 

Cast: Etienne- Marcel Giannelli, ’20, Aly Silbey ’20 and Rochelle Nuqui ‘22

“Merry-Go-Round Man” by Edward Baker, inspired by “Cover Me” 

Cast: Abdul Raafey Shoukat ’22, Zachary Christian ’20 and Sarah White ’21

“Pick Up Beds” by K. Frithjof Peterson, inspired by “When You’re Alone”

Cast: Chloe Savitch ’22 and Sophie Hurwitz ’21

“Glad for the Company” by Tucker Rafferty, inspired by “Nebraska” 

Cast: Emma Youmans ‘20

Box office hours are 12:30-1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and reservations can be made by calling 518-388-6545.

Maybe Bruce Springsteen Was Born to Run Home

springsteen netflix

Springsteen on Broadway (courtesy of Netflix)

Religion News Service is running my piece on Catholicism and “home” in “Springsteen on Broadway.” Needless to say, I had fun with this one.

Here is a taste:

Yet, as Springsteen knows all too well, escaping a Catholic past in the Irish and Italian enclaves of working-class New Jersey is not easy. “You know what they say about Catholics … there’s no getting out … (the priests and nuns) did their work hard and they did it well.”

Springsteen understands that the past often has its way with us — shaping us, haunting us, defining us, motivating us and empowering us. Like a priest conducting Mass, he asks the audience to receive the Lord’s Prayer as a “benediction” — perhaps a final blessing from a music legend who was never quite able to outrun the sound of the church bells.

Maybe this is what it means, as he wrote famously in “Born to Run,” to “get to that place where we really want to go” where we can “walk in the sun.” Maybe Bruce Springsteen was born to run home.

Over the years, Springsteen has become the darling of progressive politicians. He campaigned for John Kerry in 2004, Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and (briefly) for Hillary Clinton in 2016. But when he tells his story on Broadway, he transports us back to a day when progressive ideals and the relentless quest for the American dream were not separated from tradition, roots, place, a longing for home, and Christian faith.

Read the entire piece here.

The Humanity of Bruce Springsteen


Here is a taste of Peter Van Buren’s wonderful review of “Springsteen on Broadway“:

The evening was as necessary as a last hospital visit with an old friend. Bruce wanted to know—he asked—if he’d done okay by us, if he’d been a “good companion.” We’d made him very rich, allowing him as he joked to never have to hold a job in his life. Twice he accused himself of being a fraud, saying he’d never been inside a factory. But it’s time now to take that long walk. We’re tired, we’re old, we’re at the point where there is more to look back on than to look forward to. So did he do okay by us? Was it…enough?

Yeah, Bruce, it was. The show finished where things started, really, with “Born to Run.” Everyone in the audience heard it a first time a different time since it came out in 1975, but since then 43 years had passed, we had grown old together. Every one of us, and by God that had to include Bruce, heard a hundred versions of that song in that moment. We heard it on 8-track, bootleg cassette, LP, CD, MP3, DVD, YouTube, and Netflix, and faced together the warm embrace and cold slap of never being 16 years old again.

Age is omnipresent—maybe we ain’t that young anymore—right down to the construction of the song list; it’s telling that a 69-year-old Springsteen chose about a third of the set from his youthful period 40 years earlier. As he said on stage, there’s less blank paper left for us to write on. Maybe as a person, maybe as a nation. Maybe they are the same thing if we think on it right.

Read the entire piece at The American Conservative.


Springsteen Exhibit Comes to Freehold, New Jersey


It is Bruce’s hometownMelissa Ziobro, a public history professor at Monmouth University, has curated an exhibit about Springsteen’s relationship with Freehold, New Jersey.  Read all about it at the Asbury Park Press.  Here is a taste:

The exhibit will be the largest drawn to date from the artifacts of The Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music at Monmouth University. The unveiling will coincide with the Boss’ 70th birthday (Sept. 23, 2019) as well as the centennial of Freehold Borough.

The items on display will include personal scrapbooks handmade by Springsteen’s mom, Adele Springsteen, to alternate album covers never before seen by the public. E Street Band drummer Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez; early Springsteen manager Carl “Tinker” West; and “Born to Run” drummer Ernest “Boom” Carter are contributing oral histories for the exhibit.

Read the entire piece here.

Bruce Springsteen Talks Mental Health and Depression

Bruce on Broad

If you are a Bruce Springsteen fan, or someone who is interested in mental health struggles, I encourage you to read Michael Hainey’s piece at Esquire: “Beneath the Surface of Bruce Springsteen.”  Hainey got Springsteen to talk about some of his personal demons in a way that goes beyond what he wrote in his memoir Born to Run.  A taste:

Springsteen sighs. “I would go back to DNA. If you grow up in a household where people are refusing to take responsibility for their lives, chances are you’re gonna refuse. You’re gonna see yourself as a professional victim. And once that’s locked into you, it takes a lotta self-awareness, a lotta work to come out from under it. I’m shocked at the number of people that I know who fall into this category. And it has nothing to do with whether you’re successful or not. It’s just your baggage. So that’s important to communicate to your children: They have to take responsibility for who they are, their actions, what they do. They’ve got to own their lives.”

Is there, I ask, a code that you live by?

“I’ve never tried to articulate it, to be honest. The qualities that my mother has are ones that I’ve tried to foster in myself. So what do I say? Kindness, a certain kind of gentleness that’s girded by strength. Thoughtfulness, which is very difficult for a narcissist like myself to deliver on a daily basis. I’ve had to get around my own self-involvement, which is one of the natural characteristics of the artist. If I had to say something, I’d say, ‘I’m steadfast, honest, and true.’ ”

Read the entire piece here.

“Land of Hopes and Dreams”: Broadway (and Acoustic) Edition

It is certainly fitting that Bruce Springsteen would release this now.

It is a cut from his forthcoming album, Springsteen on Broadway.  It goes on sale on December 14, 2018.  Read more about it here.


Grab your ticket and your suitcase, thunder’s rolling down this track
Well, you don’t know where you’re going now, but you know you won’t be back
Well, darling, if you’re weary, lay your head upon my chest
We’ll take what we can carry, yeah, and we’ll leave the rest

Well, big wheels roll through the fields where sunlight streams
Meet me in a land of hope and dreams

I will provide for you and I’ll stand by your side
You’ll need a good companion now for this part of the ride
Yeah, leave behind your sorrows, let this day be the last
Well, tomorrow there’ll be sunshine and all this darkness past

Well, big wheels roll through fields where sunlight streams
Oh, meet me in a land of hope and dreams

Well, this train carries saints and sinners
This train carries losers and winners
This train carries whores and gamblers
This train carries lost souls

I said, this train carries broken-hearted
This train, thieves and sweet souls departed
This train carries fools and kings Lord
This train, all aboard

I said, now this train, dreams will not be thwarted
This train, faith will be rewarded
This train, hear steel wheels singing
This train, bells of freedom ringing

Well, big wheels roll through fields where sunlight streams
Oh, meet me in a land of hope and dreams

Fans Vote on Their Favorite Springsteen Women


Three of the top Springsteen heroines (Mary, Wendy, & Terry) appear on the Born to Run album

Pete Chianca of Blogness on the Edge of Town blog recently asked Bruce Springsteen fans to name their favorite “iconic heroines” from the Boss’s song catalog.

Here are the top ten:

  1.  Mary (Thunder Road)
  2.  Rosie (Rosalita)
  3.  Wendy (Born to Run)
  4.  Sandy (Fourth of July, Asbury Park)
  5. Candy (Candy’s Room)
  6. Puerto Rican Jane (Incident on 57th Street)
  7. Bobby Jean (Bobby Jean)
  8. Sherry (Sherry Darling)
  9. Terry (Backstreets)
  10. Mary (The River)

Read the rest here.

Listen here:


Song of the Day

Because sometimes you just need to listen to Born to Run:

“Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you”–Augustine’s Confessions