David Byrne's 'American Utopia' Sets Return Broadway Engagement

Matthew Murphy
David Byrne and company in 'American Utopia'

The former Talking Heads frontman's critically lauded theatrical concert, which will be released as a feature film directed by Spike Lee, is coming back to New York's Hudson Theatre in the fall.

The same day one of the major hits of fall 2019 concludes its phenomenally successful 20-week extended Broadway run, a return engagement has been announced for next fall. 

David Byrne's American Utopia — a dazzling, one-of-a-kind theatrical concert that combines songs from his Talking Heads art-rock heyday with selections from across his eclectic solo output, all of it woven into a joyous call to arms to rewire our brains and connect both with our fellow humans and our ailing planet — will be back at New York's Hudson Theatre in September.

The critically acclaimed show will play a 17-week return engagement, beginning performances Sept. 18 and scheduled through Jan. 17, 2021, with an official reopening date to be set. Tickets are now on sale at thehudsonbroadway.com.

A filmed version of American Utopia, directed by Spike Lee, has been shot, with a release date to be announced for later this year. Meanwhile, Byrne and the culturally diverse company of 11 hard-working musicians, backup singers and dancers will appear Feb. 29 as musical guests on Saturday Night Live

"It's become obvious to us in the band, the crew and the producer team that audiences want — dare I say need? — to see this show," Byrne said Sunday in a statement. "They're not ready to have it disappear just yet. We feel the same way, we love doing this show. So it's thrilling to us that we can announce that we'll be back in September."

Following the massive success in the 2017-18 season of Springsteen on Broadway, which played through multiple extensions to sold-out houses for more than a year and spawned a Netflix concert film, the potential for smartly packaged music concerts on intimate Broadway stages seems limitless.

While box office for the final week of American Utopia's initial run will not be released until Monday, the production looks to close out that engagement with combined grosses north of $20 million. The show has been playing to capacity crowds since opening, more than once setting new house records at the Hudson and recouping its initial $4 million investment in mid-December, just 10 weeks into the run.

Theater pundits already are predicting that Byrne, like Springsteen two years ago, seems a good bet to receive a special Tony Award for the show in June. Tony-nominated director Alex Timbers serves as production consultant on American Utopia, which features choreography and musical staging by Annie-B Parson. 

The film version is produced by RadicalMedia, Byrne's Todomundo and Lee's Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks. Byrne and Lee are producers, while Participant's Jeff Skoll, David Linde and Diane Weyermann serve as executive producers, along with Warner Music Group's David Bither, Charlie Cohen and Kurt Deutsch; Bill Poland of River Road Entertainment; and RadicalMedia's Jon Kamen, Dave Sirulnick and Meredith Bennett. Lead Broadway producers Kristin Caskey, Mike Isaacson and Patrick Catullo also will double as executive producers on the film.

"It has been a joy to bring American Utopia to Broadway," said the producers in a statement. "David Byrne is one of our greatest living artists and it's cause for celebration that he has made his Broadway debut with this brilliant production. We have been blown away by the range of audiences of all ages and backgrounds."

Next up at the Hudson is Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, together for the first time on Broadway, in a revival of the Neil Simon comedy Plaza Suite, directed by John Lee Beatty. Following a Boston tryout, that production begins previews March 13 ahead of an April 13 opening and is scheduled to play a limited engagement through July 12.