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  • Friday, May 17, 2019
    "David Byrne's American Utopia" Coming to Broadway in October

    After a sold-out, year-long critically acclaimed international tour, David Byrne’s American Utopia will play a strictly limited engagement on Broadway at the intimate Hudson Theatre from October 4, 2019, through January 19, 2020, with the official opening set for October 20, 2019. Pre-Broadway, David Byrne’s American Utopia will play 18 performances at Boston’s Emerson Colonial Theatre September 11–28, 2019. Tickets are on sale now via americanutopiabroadway.com.

    David Byrne’s American Utopia features David Byrne with Jacquelene Acevedo, Gustavo Di Dalva, Daniel Freedman, Chris Giarmo, Tim Keiper, Tendayi Kuumba, Karl Mansfield, Mauro Refosco, Stephane San Juan, Angie Swan, and Bobby Wooten III. The design team includes Rob Sinclair (lighting) and Pete Keppler (sound). Karl Mansfield is musical director.

    With staging and choreography by Annie-B Parson, and with Alex Timbers serving as production consultant (his collaborators on Here Lies Love), David Byrne and ensemble deliver what the Chicago Tribune has called "a marvel of staging and motion" and Forbes called a "thought-provoking example of the power of live music."

    American Utopia began as an album that David Byrne released on Nonesuch Records in March 2018. The recording was his first to reach No. 1 on the Album Chart and was also his first to reach the Top Five on the Billboard 200 chart. The theatrical concert, which includes songs from American Utopia along with songs from Talking Heads and his solo career, played more than 150 dates in 27 countries over nine months in 2018.

    David Byrne said the following about the creation of the Broadway production:

    “As I was recording the songs for my American Utopia album it occurred to me that they would be exciting to play live—and I realized that a lot my older material would fit right in ... I imagined a live show ... I pictured a lot of drummers, a kind of drum line/samba school/second line—that would create the rhythms.

    “A few years previously I had toured with the musical artist St Vincent and we had a large horn section that we decided should be completely mobile. Could I liberate the other instruments in the band as well for the new show? It turns out I could—drummer Mauro Refosco, whom I’ve worked with for years, said we’d need six drummers to reproduce the necessary grooves. There is now a technology that allows a keyboard to be mobile, so [musical director] Karl Mansfield tested it out.

    “Annie-B Parson, whom I’d worked with a number of times in the past, came on board and we began to collaborate on discovering movement that seemed appropriate for the songs. Sometimes she gave us complex movement to try and sometimes, a little surprisingly, we’d discover, or at least I did, that the simplest idea could have a huge emotional impact.

    “Given how theatrical the show is others told me, ‘This needs to go to Broadway.’ Why not? But what did that mean? Parked in a beautiful Broadway theater we can perfect the sound, the lights, the movement. I thought to myself that this new context might be good—it might bring out the narrative arc a little bit more, to make it just a little more explicit. I asked Alex Timbers, whom I’d worked with twice before on musicals, to help. He brought some original and insightful ideas to the room, ideas I was too close to imagine, and we used those to build on what we had.

    “People ask me will I be darting into a town car after these shows or taking a flying leap onto my bicycle ... take a wild guess.”

    To read David Byrne’s essay about the journey to Broadway, visit americanutopiabroadway.com.

    David Byrne’s American Utopia is produced by Kristin Caskey, Mike Isaacson, Patrick Catullo and Todomundo with Hal Luftig, Jonathan Reinis, Shira Friedman, Annapurna Theatre, Elizabeth Armstrong, Steve Traxler, Thomas Laub, Steve Rosenthal, Erica Schwartz, Matt Picheny, Len Blavatnik, Nonesuch Records, Warner/Chappell Music and Ambassador Theatre Group. Allan Williams serves as Executive Producer.

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"David Byrne's American Utopia" Coming to Broadway in October

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on May 17, 2019 - 8:00am
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Friday, May 17, 2019 - 08:00
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After a sold-out, year-long critically acclaimed international tour, David Byrne’s American Utopia will play a strictly limited engagement on Broadway at the intimate Hudson Theatre, October 4, 2019, through January 18, 2020, with the official opening set for October 20. Pre-Broadway, it will play eighteen performances at Boston’s Emerson Colonial Theatre, September 11–28, 2019. Tickets are on sale now.

Copy: 

After a sold-out, year-long critically acclaimed international tour, David Byrne’s American Utopia will play a strictly limited engagement on Broadway at the intimate Hudson Theatre from October 4, 2019, through January 19, 2020, with the official opening set for October 20, 2019. Pre-Broadway, David Byrne’s American Utopia will play 18 performances at Boston’s Emerson Colonial Theatre September 11–28, 2019. Tickets are on sale now via americanutopiabroadway.com.

David Byrne’s American Utopia features David Byrne with Jacquelene Acevedo, Gustavo Di Dalva, Daniel Freedman, Chris Giarmo, Tim Keiper, Tendayi Kuumba, Karl Mansfield, Mauro Refosco, Stephane San Juan, Angie Swan, and Bobby Wooten III. The design team includes Rob Sinclair (lighting) and Pete Keppler (sound). Karl Mansfield is musical director.

With staging and choreography by Annie-B Parson, and with Alex Timbers serving as production consultant (his collaborators on Here Lies Love), David Byrne and ensemble deliver what the Chicago Tribune has called "a marvel of staging and motion" and Forbes called a "thought-provoking example of the power of live music."

American Utopia began as an album that David Byrne released on Nonesuch Records in March 2018. The recording was his first to reach No. 1 on the Album Chart and was also his first to reach the Top Five on the Billboard 200 chart. The theatrical concert, which includes songs from American Utopia along with songs from Talking Heads and his solo career, played more than 150 dates in 27 countries over nine months in 2018.

David Byrne said the following about the creation of the Broadway production:

“As I was recording the songs for my American Utopia album it occurred to me that they would be exciting to play live—and I realized that a lot my older material would fit right in ... I imagined a live show ... I pictured a lot of drummers, a kind of drum line/samba school/second line—that would create the rhythms.

“A few years previously I had toured with the musical artist St Vincent and we had a large horn section that we decided should be completely mobile. Could I liberate the other instruments in the band as well for the new show? It turns out I could—drummer Mauro Refosco, whom I’ve worked with for years, said we’d need six drummers to reproduce the necessary grooves. There is now a technology that allows a keyboard to be mobile, so [musical director] Karl Mansfield tested it out.

“Annie-B Parson, whom I’d worked with a number of times in the past, came on board and we began to collaborate on discovering movement that seemed appropriate for the songs. Sometimes she gave us complex movement to try and sometimes, a little surprisingly, we’d discover, or at least I did, that the simplest idea could have a huge emotional impact.

“Given how theatrical the show is others told me, ‘This needs to go to Broadway.’ Why not? But what did that mean? Parked in a beautiful Broadway theater we can perfect the sound, the lights, the movement. I thought to myself that this new context might be good—it might bring out the narrative arc a little bit more, to make it just a little more explicit. I asked Alex Timbers, whom I’d worked with twice before on musicals, to help. He brought some original and insightful ideas to the room, ideas I was too close to imagine, and we used those to build on what we had.

“People ask me will I be darting into a town car after these shows or taking a flying leap onto my bicycle ... take a wild guess.”

To read David Byrne’s essay about the journey to Broadway, visit americanutopiabroadway.com.

David Byrne’s American Utopia is produced by Kristin Caskey, Mike Isaacson, Patrick Catullo and Todomundo with Hal Luftig, Jonathan Reinis, Shira Friedman, Annapurna Theatre, Elizabeth Armstrong, Steve Traxler, Thomas Laub, Steve Rosenthal, Erica Schwartz, Matt Picheny, Len Blavatnik, Nonesuch Records, Warner/Chappell Music and Ambassador Theatre Group. Allan Williams serves as Executive Producer.

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David Byrne's "American Utopia" on Broadway

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