Broadway Reopening: DAVID BYRNE’S AMERICAN UTOPIA (September 17 at the St. James Theatre)

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by Tony Frankel on June 17, 2021

in Theater-New York


Talking Heads superstar David Byrne has acquired a home for his acclaimed rock spectacle American Utopia — Broadway’s St. James Theatre, beginning Friday, September 17, 2021. And just in time: The Tony Awards Administration Committee has announced that they will present a Special Tony Award to David Byrne’s American Utopia, the tickets for which are now on sale at American Utopia.

In the once-in-a-lifetime Broadway event, Byrne is joined by 11 diverse musicians from around the globe in a jubilant celebration of live music, community, and connection. American Utopia began as an album released by Byrne in 2018. Later that year, the theatrical concert, which includes songs from American Utopia along with songs from Talking Heads and Byrne’s solo career, played more than 150 dates in 27 countries.  Following American Utopia’s celebrated arrival on Broadway in 2019-2020, Spike Lee’s acclaimed filmed version of the show opened the Toronto International Film Festival and went on to global acclaim. Byrne said, “It is with great pleasure that finally, after a year+ like no other, I can announce that our show is coming back to Broadway. You who kept the faith, who held on to your tickets, well, you knew this would happen eventually! September 17 – remount previews begin. We’re moving to the St. James Theatre – just down 44th Street from the Hudson, where we were before. The stage is a little wider and the capacity is a little bigger – I guess we did alright! Seriously, New York is back, and given all we’ve witnessed, felt and experienced, it is obvious to me that no one wants to go back to a world with EVERYTHING the way it was – we have an opportunity for a new world here. See you there.”

David Byrne

Daniel Freedman, Mauro Refosco, Jacquelene Acevedo, Gustavo Di Dalva, Angie Swan, Stéphane San
Juan, David Byrne, Tendayi Kuumba, Karl Mansfield, Tim Keiper, Chris Giarmo, and Bobby Wooten III

This “knockout theatrical concert, honoring the pleasures of music, dance and song as collective celebration” (The Hollywood Reporter) features “altogether astonishing choreography by Annie-B Parson” (The New York Times). With Tony-nominated Alex Timbers (director of Moulin Rouge!) serving as production consultant, it’s “an artistically stunning tour de force” (Variety) brimming with “total, buoyant joy” (New York Magazine). Christine Amanpour said, “It’s all about hope and connection between people. And it rocks.”

David Byrne (center) and the company of American UtopiaDaniel Freedman, Bobby Wooten III, Chris Giarmo, David Byrne (center),
Tendayi Kuumba, and Stéphane San Juan

Byrne will appear with returning original band members Jacquelene Acevedo, Gustavo Di Dalva, Daniel Freedman, Chris Giarmo, Tim Keiper, Tendayi Kuumba, Karl Mansfield, Mauro Refosco, Stéphane San Juan, Angie Swan and Bobby Wooten III.

Daniel Freedman, Bobby Wooten III, Chris Giarmo, David Byrne,
Tendayi Kuumba, Angie Swan, Stéphane San Juan, and Karl MansfieldTim Keiper, Gustavo Di Dalva, Stéphane San Juan, Daniel Freedman, and David Byrne

Nonesuch Records released both the original 2018 American Utopia album, which inspired the Broadway show, as well as the cast album for David Byrne’s American Utopia, with music and lyrics by David Byrne. Both albums are available digitally and on vinyl and CD: the cast album here, the original album here.

David Byrne (center) and the company of American Utopia
David Byrne (center) and the company of American Utopia

The show’s design team includes Rob Sinclair (lighting) and Pete Keppler (sound). Karl Mansfield and Mauro Refosco are Musical Directors.

photos by Matthew Murphy © 2019

Jacquelene Acevedo, David Byrne, Mauro Refosco, Chris Giarmo, Angie Swan, and Bobby Wooten III
Mauro Refosco, David Byrne (center), and Gustavo Di Dalva

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“A flat-out masterpiece.”
Rolling Stone

“Carries the energy of a religious revival.”
The Undefeated

“I can’t believe there’s anyone alive who won’t be moved by it.”
Vanity Fair

“Still the best musical experience on the planet.”
New Musical Express

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