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Book by: Robert N. Diestel    
Music and lyrics: B. Springsteen

Story / Premise

With help from a secret sisterhood, notable Bruce Springsteen characters come of age and transition from high school to young adulthood, fall in love and search for a brighter future and a way out of New Jersey.


Mary :

Johnny’s girlfriend. Lives at home in central New Jersey with her parents. Catholic upbringing. Family owns a flower farm. Mary tends to the flowers grown in her backyard. Dreams of a future with a good, honest man.

Johnny : 

Mary’s boyfriend. Works at the Ford auto plant in Mahwah, New Jersey. Straining financially with the burden of taking care of his younger sister, Sherry, after his mom, dad, and grandmother passed. As a young teenager he was a promising guitarist but had to give it up when he and Sherry were orphaned.

Hazy Davy :

A talented but struggling musician / songwriter. Brings his guitar and lyrics notebook with him wherever he goes.

Rosalita :

Hazy Davy’s girlfriend. Supportive of Davy and his quest to be a musician. Her parents can’t stand him because he has no future.

Eddie :

Desires Wendy. Works as an apprentice mechanic at Dench’s Auto Body in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey. Wants to head anywhere else and run his own shop.

Wendy :

A consummate Jersey girl. Romantically pursued by Eddie. Like her friends, on the verge of adulthood but unlike the others, hesitant to ever leave New Jersey.

Wild Billy :

Works on the boardwalk. In love with Bobby Jean. Aspires to join the Flying Zambini’s, a traveling show and extravaganza based out of Nebraska.

Bobby Jean :

Wild Billy’s love interest, but he may not be the type she desires. She has other plans for herself outside New Jersey.

Madam Anna :

The enigmatic fortune teller on the Asbury Park boardwalk. Has watched all the kids grow up.  Offers them advice and glimpses into their futures.

Sister Sheila :

A progressive nun who offers counsel, hope, and advice to the “boardwalk brats” of Asbury Park. She had the girls as students at St. Catherine’s school. A Jersey girl herself.

Danny F :

The Asbury Park apparition, a boardwalk brat from long ago. Married to Candy. 

Other Character Appearances / Mentions

  • Candy

  • Janey

  • Kitty

  • Sandy

  • Little Steven

  • Young Bruce Springsteen

  • Young Clarence Clemons

  • St. Catherine Nuns

  • Bergen County Jail Inmates

  • Judge Mean John Brown, 

  • Mahwah Police Chief and his Deputy

Featured Songs

  • No Surrender

  • Girls in Their Summer Clothes

  • The Fever

  • You Can Look

  • Dancing the Dark / Hungry Heart / Tunnel of Love

  • Secret Garden

  • Two Hearts

  • Leap of Faith

  • Mary’s Place

  • Crush on You

  • I’m on Fire

  • Man’s Job

  • I’m Rocker

  • Jersey Girl

  • Johnny 99

  • Mary, Don’t You Weep

  • If I Should Fall Behind

  • Growin’ Up

  • Wild Billy’s Circus Story

  • Open All Night

  • Badlands

  • Happy

  • I’m Going Down / Talk to Me (medley)

  • Prove It All Night

  • Dancing in the Dark

  • Meeting Across the River

  • Pay Me My Money Down

  • Land of Hopes and Dreams

  • Rosalita

  • Bobby Jean

  • Born to Run

  • Thunder Road


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  • Asbury Park Beach

  • Asbury Park Boardwalk

  • Madam Anna’s Temple of Knowledge (on the boardwalk)

  • Mary’s Place (Corner of E Street and 10th Avenue)

  • St. Catherine’s Church

  • Garden State Parkway

  • Asbury Park Train Station

  • Dench’s Auto Body, Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ

  • Bergen County Jail

  • The Stone Pony (on the boardwalk)

Foundational Elements

Production & Directing Inquiries

Send requests for copies of the script to . Please provide your full name, mailing address, email address and tel. number.

To read the script, click here.

Legal Disclosure

Growin’ Up -Asbury Park is intellectual property of R. Diestel, Digitally Protected. Copyright registration effective date June 30, 2022. Registration No. PAu 4-141-547. Certification as original work of authorship, U.S. Register of Copyrights. May contain derivative work and text not claimed under copyright. Not for Publication. Not for sale. Do not publish. Do not copy. Do not print. Legal documents and verification provided upon request.

Playwright’s Statement

I am a husband and father of three, born and raised in New Jersey.  I’m married to a remarkable woman who is an amazing mother.  I’m blessed with three terrific kids that have a lot going for them because of their own effort and personal choices.  I work for a household name, national retailer, trying to earn enough to pay my mortgage, put the kids through school and save for a very modest retirement someday.  I’ve been a fan of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band more than 40 years. 

Of course, like other fans, I’m very familiar with Bruce’s collection of albums and songs. Over time, I began to form my own images and perceptions of scenes and characters portrayed in his songs.  Twenty years ago, just for fun, I started putting pen to paper, sketching a light-hearted musical story about some of the characters in Bruce’s songs.  Avid Springsteen listeners know that Mary is mentioned in many of his songs.  Naturally, Mary needed to be a central character.  Wendy also made the cut because she’s the protagonist in Born to Run. But what do I do with Candy, Kitty, Janey, Bobby Jean, Sandy and Sherry?  And what about notable young men in Springsteen’s songs?  I’ve always sympathized with Johnny 99.  Wayne, Eddie, Frankie, Sonny, Bobby, Terry, Killer Joe, Wild Billy were all potential characters too. Ultimately, I went with the characters that appeared most vividly to me and placed them in the script. 

As I began to piece a story together, I did some matchmaking. I playfully inserted lyrics and titles of Bruce’s songs into the script and the characters’ dialog to introduce some more fun into the writing process, anticipating that discerning Springsteen fans (if ever read or heard by any) might appreciate the references, some jokingly obvious while others very subtle and intentionally hidden.  In addition, I gave some thought to how the audience might be able to engage in a Springsteen musical.  To that end, I inserted some situations in scenes that might give rise to audience participation, applause, and amusement with fleeting appearances by Bruce, Clarence and Little Steven and audience polling at intermission that affects the end of the show.  If the story ever made its way on stage in front of Springsteen fans, I anticipate they’ll join in and sings many of the songs.

It took me 20 years to get the script down and have the courage to put it out there.  I had many starts and stops.  Sometimes I didn’t write for months or years.  Versions of the story were filed next to my tax return folders and medical records.  Typically, I’d spent 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there to write a few lines right after work or in the car before heading into work.  After the iPhone came out, I started using my phone to record ideas while listening to songs in the car or while riding a stationary bike at the gym.

I suspect people close to me will laugh, roll their eyes, and acknowledge that this is just another silly idea I’ve come up with that dies on the vine.  That’s ok.  I enjoyed piecing this together like a puzzle, fitting the songs, characters, and scenes together.  The “book” is largely completed but admittedly it has some gaps and flaws. I know the script won’t translate into a musical that makes it to Broadway. That was never the intent.  Besides, Bruce and Jon Landau and “the record company, Rosie”, would not likely approve the use of the songs and lyrics in a professional, for-profit production.  My hope is that fellow fans might enjoy reading the script  or seeing the musical performed in New Jersey on a high school, college, or local non-profit stage someday.

Years ago, when I read that Springsteen on Broadway was going to be performed, I thought, oh my God, someone finally did it.  Someone, alas, produced a Springsteen musical.  I’ll stop writing.  But when I realized it was Bruce, who was going to perform his songs intimately on stage, I decided to finish my story. A Springsteen musical should be done.  So many characters, so many stories, so many possibilities.  Here’s just one.   – RND

Note:  The script is original work .  However, no claim of ownership is made to the lyrics and songs of Bruce Springsteen, Columbia Records or Sony Music Entertainment.

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