The Tony Awards administration committee announced Tuesday (June 22) that they are awarding special Tony Awards to David Byrne’s American Utopia; Freestyle Love Supreme, a show co-created in 2004 by Lin-Manuel Miranda; and The Broadway Advocacy Coalition.
Special Tony Awards are presented to outstanding productions, artists and organizations that do not fall into any of the competitive categories. These awards will be presented Sept. 26 as part of the 74th annual Tony Awards.
American Utopia on Broadway received a Grammy nomination this past year for best musical theater album. The show is based on David Byrne’s 2018 album American Utopia, which received a Grammy nod for best alternative music album.
Byrne won both an Oscar and a Grammy for co-scoring the 1987 film The Last Emperor with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Cong Su.
“In what has been such an unusual year in theatre, we are thrilled to be presenting these special Tony Awards to three such deserving recipients,” said Heather Hitchens, CEO and president of the American Theatre Wing, and Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, in a joint statement.
“The Broadway Advocacy Coalition has provided an unparalleled platform for marginalized members of our theatre 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 theatre to the next level, delivering outside-of-the-box presentations that have gone beyond the stage and brought theatre into the homes of millions of people around the world.”
In David Byrne’s American Utopia, Byrne is joined by 11 diverse musicians from around the globe in a celebration of live music, community and connection. The theatrical concert includes songs from Byrne’s 2018 album American Utopia along with songs from Talking Heads and Byrne’s solo career. Following American Utopia’s arrival on Broadway in 2019-20, Spike Lee’s acclaimed filmed version of the show opened the Toronto International Film Festival.
David Byrne’s American Utopia is produced by Kristin Caskey, Mike Isaacson, Patrick Catullo and Todomundo. The show is scheduled to return to Broadway beginning Sept. 17.
Freestyle Love Supreme was created by Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Anthony Veneziale. Kail went on to direct the off-Broadway and Broadway productions of Miranda’s musicals In the Heights and Hamilton. Kail won the 2016 Tony for best direction of a musical for the latter. Kail and Miranda were among four creators of Hamilton who were awarded the Kennedy Center Honors in 2018.
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, with the same producers — Kail, Miranda, Jenny & Jon Steingart and Jill Furman. Directed by Kail, the show features a comedic improvisational musical structure and a rotating cast of Broadway performers.
Freestyle Love Supreme will return to Broadway with a limited engagement at the Booth Theatre. Previews begin Oct. 7. Performances are slated to run through Jan. 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 the systems that perpetuate racism. Founded in 2016 by several Black members of the Broadway community, it has 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.
As previously announced, the Tony Awards will host a multi-platform celebration on Sunday, Sept. 26, starting with the presentation of the 74th Annual Tony Awards at 7 p.m./4 p.m. PT live exclusively on Paramount+; and followed by The Tony Awards Present: Broadway’s Back! on CBS and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+ and the CBS app.