That musical, called “Racing in the Street,” didn’t get the green light, either. “My memory is that the script made its way to Springsteen’s people, who said that Springsteen wasn’t interested in theatrical adaptations of his work,” Mr. Weidman said. “Understandable and not unexpected.”
Still, you can’t blame a book writer for trying. After all, musicals based on song catalogs have become a Broadway staple: not only “Jersey Boys” (the Four Seasons) but also “Beautiful” (Carole King), “Mamma Mia!” (Abba) and “Movin’ Out” (Billy Joel). “Escape to Margaritaville,” drawn from the Jimmy Buffett songbook, arrives this season; shows based on the music of Donna Summer and the Temptations are having productions this fall in California, and a Cher musical is not far behind.
So we approached another set of dramatists, asking them to take their own stabs at Springsteen musicals. Here they go, dancing in the dark:
Douglas Carter Beane has been nominated for the Tony Award for best book of a musical for “Xanadu,” “Sister Act,” “Lysistrata Jones” and “Cinderella.” His new musical is “Hood.”
Our musical starts as the Trump Administration is beating it out of D.C. for a working weekend at Trump’s northern White House. In an exhilarating opening number, the cabinet, its assistants and various generals sing and dance to “Born to Run.” I think the song will be great here; getting “American dream” and “mansions” into the same lyric is a terrific match. We’ll just cut the part in the opening where Bruce says, “Nobody wins unless everybody wins.”
Now, for a musical comedy, we’ll need a love story! Our leading lady, let’s call her Mary (Jessie Mueller), works as a midlevel bureaucrat. Our leading man, Danny (Leslie Odom Jr.), is the in-house golf pro. Let’s have them meet cute on the fairway. They sing a duet of “Fire.” We’ll just change the line “I’m driving in my car” to “I’m driving in my cart.”
Let’s keep our kids apart. In the next scene, at a dinner dance with the theme “Make America Great Again,” the chorus sings a rousing “Glory Days.” Well, who should our Mary bump into? How about that sexy lady killer, panther-like dancer and senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller (Neil Patrick Harris)!? The attraction is…