People always ask, ‘If you could play another real person on stage, who would it be?’ I always answer, ‘Bruce Springsteen.’ I love Bruce Springsteen.
In 1981, Jarrod Spector was “Born in the U.S.A.” “Growin’ Up,” he walked the “Streets of Philadelphia” where he became a fan of New Jersey born-and-bred singer/songwriter Bruce Springsteen. Always “Working on a Dream,” Spector’s “Hungry Heart” drove him to “The Promised Land” of New York City, where he made a name performing on Broadway in the jukebox musicals Jersey Boys and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
When asked what other jukebox musical Spector might possibly like to like to star in, there was no hesitation—one featuring the songs of “The Boss.” “Bruce Springsteen,” he said. "I love Bruce Springsteen.”
Here, Spector puts on a “Brilliant Disguise” that mirrors the iconic rocker and performs three hits that span the career of the tireless performer—Springsteen’s longest concert topped the four-hour mark. With Aurelien Budynek serving as Spector’s proxy of “Miami” Steve Van Zandt (Springsteen’s longtime guitarist and star of The Sopranos and Lilyhammer), he runs through “If I Should Fall Behind,” “Because the Night,” and, of course, “Born to Run,” considered by many to be the all-time greatest rock ‘n’ roll anthem.
The dense and puzzling lyrics featured on Springsteen’s debut album garnered comparisons to Bob Dylan; Springsteen's jazz-inflected follow-up spun tales of the dreamers, misfits, and con-men that populate the boardwalk along the Jersey Shore. It was his 1975 release Born to Run that crowned him the standard bearer of rock ‘n’ roll. In this collection of songs, many critics found parallels to the themes and characters of West Side Story. Sweeping anthems like “Jungleland,” “Backstreets,” and “She’s the One” centered around desperate young lovers, turf wars (the Rangers and Duke Street Kings rather than the Jets and Sharks!), and a burning desire to leave behind the mundane everyday world for adventure, romance, and freedom.
It seems like there’s more than enough material for a stage musical within these songs. Could there be a Springsteen jukebox musical in the works? Spector doesn’t think so, especially since he has the inside scoop. “From working on Beautiful, I had the opportunity to meet people who licensed music for the show. They told me Bruce was approached but declined the offer. It makes sense. He’s still on tour selling out arenas across the world. Why would he want to compete against himself?”
Suppose that Springsteen changes his mind and Spector is cast to play his idol. Who would he choose to fill out the roster of Springsteen’s E Street Band onstage? “There are so many astonishingly talented actors and musicians that I would never presume to have the wisdom to cast the E Street Band. My one exception and demand would be that Patti Scialfa be played by my wife Kelli Barrett—an entirely artistic choice, of course,” Spector said with a wink.
Some of Springsteen’s album covers are amongst the most iconic in the realm of rock photography. Here, Playbill photographer Monica Simoes had a little fun seeing what Spector would look like in place of the rocker.
Jarrod Spector Bruce Springsteen shoot
Spector brings his cabaret show Jukebox Life to Feinstein’s/54 Below November 1-5 and 13. And, worry not, Springsteen fans, “Born to Run” is featured in his set.