Broadway returns with solo performance by Bruce Springsteen

New York City Serenade! Bruce Springsteen reopens Broadway with his one-man show – but ONLY for vaccinated fans as furious anti-vaxxers protest outside

  • Bruce Springsteen marked the return of Broadway Saturday night with the opening of his show ‘Springsteen on Broadway’
  • It drew more than 1,700 fans to the St. James Theater for the first time in more than a year, as Broadway remained shuttered during the pandemic 
  • A group of anti-vaxxers protested the concert, which required a proof of a COVID vaccine to get in  
  • They claimed they were being discriminated against, and called it ‘segregation’  
  • But once inside, fans were able to enjoy an intimate concert with the Boss 

Broadway came roaring back to life Saturday night with the gruff voice of Bruce Springsteen – in a show for vaccinated fans only.

It was the first time in more than a year that the lights went up on Broadway, drawing some 1,700 Springsteen fans to the St. James Theater to see the Boss in action.

But as many celebrated life returning to normal, others were furious at the theater’s decision to require proof of vaccination for tickets. 

About three dozen anti-vaxxer protesters gathered outside the St. James Theater to complain they were being discriminated against. Many carried signs saying ‘Bruce Springsteen is for segregation on Broadway,’ ‘Unmasked, unvaxxed, unafraid,’ ‘Vaccine mandates violate bodily autonomy’ and ‘My body, my choice’ – a slogan typically used by pro-abortion rights activists.

Some reportedly harassed and shouted at the concert-goers, The New York Times reports, with one man in a pink bandana yelling into a bullhorn: ‘Welcome to Nazi Germany.’

Another woman, holding the sign accusing Springsteen of segregation, told the Asbury Park Press: ‘I think we learned in the 60s that segregating people isn’t right. You can’t segregate a crowd for medical choices.’

‘Are you going to start separating people who have AIDS or hepatitis,’ she asked, rhetorically.

Jenny Tam, one of the concert-goers who was waiting in line to see the Boss, did not seem phased by the protests.

‘Everybody is entitled to their own opinion,’ she said, but added: ‘I would think if I’m a performer, i would want the audience vaccinated.’ 

Singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen exited the side-door of the St. James Theater Saturday night to wave to fans

Anti-vaxxers assembled at Times Square to protest the opening of ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ on June 26, as the show required proof of vaccination to get in

The nearly three dozen protesters stood outside the St. James Theater holding signs like ‘Vaccine mandates violate bodily autonomy’ as they claimed they were being discriminated against by not being allowed in the theater

One protester spoke into a bullhorn as people gathered outside the theater to attend the show 

Some held signs claiming it was segregation, with one woman saying ‘You can’t segregate a crowd for medical choices

The group said they should not be forced to get a COVID vaccine to get into the theater

At one point, the protesters tried to confront show-goers whom they were allegedly harassing

Originally, FOX News reported, the theater would only allow patrons who received one of the FDA-approved vaccines – Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson, but after receiving some backlash, the theater agreed to permit patrons who received the AstraZeneca vaccine as well.

The theater also made an exception for children under the age of 16, fans with disabilities, and those with ‘sincerely held’ religious beliefs – who would be required to show proof of a negative COVID test to get in.

Fans who had received their shots were excited to see the Boss in person as the Saturday debut marked the first time in 471 days that a Broadway show opened to the public, after the legendary theater district was closed for a record-setting 15 months due to the pandemic.

‘It’s just epic to have the Boss open us back up,’ Giancarlo DiMascio, of Rochester, told The Times. ‘It’s big for New York, its big for arts and culture here, and to have this open up is a sense of normalcy.’ 

Many concertgoers lined up on 44th Street for the show, many wearing old Springsteen concert T-shirts and Springsteen facemasks.

Fans waited by the stage with their Bruce Springsteen paraphernalia to get into the show 

It came as COVID cases in the state have been decreasing throughout the state, with more people receiving COVID vaccines.

As of June 25, New York State data shows, there were only 385 new COVID cases in the state, for a three-day average of 314.

Throughout the country, there were only about 10,000 cases, with the Centers for Disease Control reporting that community spread is moderate.

Meanwhile, the number of people receiving a COVID vaccine has increased, with the New York State Department of Health reporting that 59.4 percent of the total population has received at least one dose, and 52.8 percent are fully vaccinated.

Among adults over the age of 18, that figure is higher – with 71.6 percent of the population receiving at least one dose and 64.1 percent being fully vaccinated.

And across the country, the CDC reports, 53.8 percent of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

The reopening came as COVID infections are declining throughout the country

More people are also getting vaccinated against the virus, with 53.8 percent of all Americans receiving at least one dose

 In May, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he would permit Broadway to fully reopen its doors in September, in accordance with the state’s health and safety guidelines.   

‘Broadway is at the core of our New York identity, and a big part of our economy which employees countless performers and show creators, and beginning this September, the show will go on,’ Cuomo said. 

‘Visitors from all around the world have come to New York to experience the arts and culture and see iconic performances on Broadway, and sadly, the pandemic put this unique New York experience on pause. 

‘Thankfully, as we continue to monitor the data and reopen our economy, we are now on track to allow full capacity performances on Broadway to resume beginning this September, bringing back this beloved world-famous attraction.’

Then, earlier this month, Springsteen announced he would reopen his show on June 26, the first one to do so.

‘I loved doing Broadway,’ he said in a statement, ‘and I’m thrilled to have been asked to reprise the show as part of the reopening of Broadway.’

Bruce Springsteen performed for a fully-vaccinated audience in the opening show of ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ Saturday night

Springsteen and Patti Scialfa took a bow during the opening night show

‘I am here tonight to provide proof of life,’ Springsteen started out, reiterating a line from the monologue of his original show, which ran for 236 performances between 2017 and 2018.

That proof, he said, according to the New York Times, was ‘to that ever elusive, never completely believable, particularly these days, us,’ which included 1,721 patrons, such as New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Steven Van Zandt, the guitarist for Springsteen’s E Street Band, with very few people wearing masks.

‘It’s been a long time coming,’ Springsteen said to the crowd after finishing his first song, ‘Growin’ Up.’ 

‘In 71 years on the planet, I haven’t seen anything like this past year.’

He spoke about his mom, Adele Springsteen, saying she has had Alzheimer’s for the past 10 years ‘but the need o dance, that need to dance is something that hasn’t left her.

‘She can’t speak. She can’t stand,’ he continued. ‘But when she sees me there’s a smile.’

He also spoke about the growing civil unrest in the country, after a year of Black Lives Matter protests.

‘We are living in troubling times,’ he said. ‘Certainly not in my lifetime, when the survival of democracy itself, not just who is going to be running the show for the next four years, but the survival of democracy itself is deeply threatened.’

At that point, the Times reports, Springsteen launched into one of his three new songs ‘American Skin (41 shots)’ about a Guinean immigrant named Amadou Diallo who was fatally shot by New York Police Department officers in 1999. 

The show is being held at the St. James Theater, which had remained closed throughout the pandemic along with the rest of Broadway

The show, which the Times described as ‘part concert, part comedy, part tragedy, part therapy,’ based on Springsteen’s best-selling autobiography ‘Born to Run,’ had previously earned the Boss a Special Tony Award for his performance. 

Proceeds from the opening night were donated to various New York and New Jersey charities, such as the Boys and Girls Club of Monmouth County, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, Food Bank for New York City, Fulfill (the Monmouth and Ocean Counties Foodbank), Long Island Cares, the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund and the Actor’s Fund.

The show will continue to run through the beginning of September, as others, like ‘Hamilton,’ ‘Wicked’ and ‘Hadestown,’ are still waiting to reopen in September.

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