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Show Photos - American Utopia - 10/19 - David Byrne - Photo: Matthew Murphy

David Byrne’s American Utopia, Freestyle Love Supreme & the Broadway Advocacy Coalition to Receive Special Tony Awards

June 22nd, 2021 | By Lindsey Sullivan

The Tony Awards Administration Committee announced three special Tony Awards will be presented to David Byrne’s American Utopia, Freestyle Love Supreme and the Broadway Advocacy Coalition. These honors are given to outstanding productions, artists and organizations who do not fall into any of the competitive categories.

“In what has been such an unusual year in theater, we are thrilled to be presenting these Special Tony Awards to three such deserving recipients,” said American Theatre Wing President and CEO Heather Hitchens and Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin in a joint statement. “The Broadway Advocacy Coalition has provided an unparalleled platform for marginalized members of our theater community and tools to help us all do better as we strive for equity. The two productions we are honoring, David Byrne’s American Utopia and Freestyle Love Supreme take theater to the next level, delivering outside-of-the-box presentations that have gone beyond the stage and brought theater into the homes of millions of people around the world.”

In American Utopia, which began as an album released by Talking Heads superstar David Byrne in 2018, the music legend is joined by 11 musicians from around the globe in a jubilant celebration of live music, community and connection. The theatrical concert, which includes songs from American Utopia as well as from the 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 filmed version of the show opened the Toronto International Film Festival and went on to premiere on HBO. As previously reported, the show will return to Broadway on September 17 at the St. James Theatre with all of the original musicians. American Utopia features Byrne with 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.

For more than 17 years, the same dedicated producers, creative team and founding company members of Freestyle Love Supreme have aspired to make people laugh, bring audiences joy and create theater that is unique and unforgettable. It was created by Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Anthony Veneziale and what started out with a loose format in the basement of the Drama Bookshop in 2004 worked its way to the Booth Theatre on Broadway in 2019. Directed by Kail, the acclaimed show features a comedic improvisational musical structure and a rotating cast of performers. As previously announedFreestyle Love Supreme will return to Broadway’s Booth Theatre from October 7 through January 2, 2022.

The Broadway Advocacy Coalition is an arts-based advocacy nonprofit dedicated to building the capacity of individuals, organizations and communities to use storytelling to dismantle systems that perpetuate racism. Founded in 2016 by several Black members of the Broadway community, it has since grown into a multidisciplinary organization which unites artists, legal experts and community advocates to create lasting impact and collaborations on policy issues ranging from criminal justice reform to education equity to immigration. BAC was founded by Jackie Bell, Amber Iman, Cameron J Ross, Britton Smith, Adrienne Warren and Christian Dante White. Its board of directors is made up of Kate Berry, Richard Gray, Amber Iman, Zhailon Levingston, Naila McKenzie, Robb Nanus, Alejo Rodriguez, Britton Smith, Susan Sturm, Carolyn Tharp, Adrienne Warren, Ben Wexler and Gloria Zarate. The BAC staff includes Mikayla Bartholomew, Dria Brown, Chesray Dolpha, Zhailon Levingston, Mona Moriya, Robb Nanus, Nia Robinson, Alejo Rodriguez, Leia Squillace and Susan Sturm.

As previously reported, CBS and Tony Award Productions will celebrate the return of live theater on Broadway with a multi-platform event, The Tony Awards Present: Broadway’s Back! on September 26 beginning at 9PM ET on CBS. Many of the awards will be presented in a streaming presentation, but three awards—Best Play, Best Revival of a Play and Best Musical—will be broadcast on the network. Other winners will be celebrated throughout the broadcast. The evening will kick off live with the 74th Annual Tony Awards at 7PM ET exclusively on Paramount+.


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