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Review Roundup: Broadway-Bound AMERICAN UTOPIA in Boston

By: Sep. 27, 2019
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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 from October 4, 2019 through January 19, 2020, with the official opening set for October 20, 2019.

Tomorrow, September 28, David Byrne's American Utopia concludes its pre-Broadway run at Boston's Emerson Colonial Theatre. Let's see what the critics had to say...

Maura Johnston, Boston Globe: With "American Utopia," which finishes up its run of preview performances at the Emerson Colonial Theatre this weekend before kicking off a Broadway run next month, Byrne pairs his flair for rock pageantry with the sort of inclusive spirit that powers mosh pits and singalongs between strangers. Part revue of his earlier work, part performance-art interpretation of his vast back catalog, part feisty rock concert, and all Byrne, "American Utopia" is exuberant and generous, reveling in the simple joys of song and movement as it encourages its viewers to give each other a second look.

Jared Bowen, WGBH Morning Edition: I found it beautiful, intellectual and moving. He has stripped away all of the artifice of what you might find on stage. So you just have him and his band in gray suits - no wires, no mics that you can see - everybody playing their instruments. The choreography - unbelievably exquisite! It coalesces with this amazing intellect that you realize - we've always realized - that David Byrne - for progressive his music has been and how avant-garde his music has been. But he begins this piece by explaining the brain and the connections we have. And you realize through this show, this is what he wants to do. This is why it's in a smaller theatre. He wants to have connections with his audience.

Iris Fanger, Patriot Ledger: There's no denying the mesmerizing stage presence of Byrne, who opens the show quietly at first, seated at a table and holding an oversized model of a human brain. He muses about the power of the brain from infancy to adulthood and the connections it helps a person to make over a lifetime. The stage is bare but surrounded on three sides by a high-ceilinged curtain of silver strings of beads that drops down slowly and then retracts by the end as if to salute the theater's history by showing the homely and homey bare stage of the century-old Colonial.

Jed Gottlieb, Boston Herald: If "American Utopia" was an essay, it might come off as preachy and pedantic. As a performance, it's revelatory. Just as he's done for decades, the subversive has used rock 'n' roll - the playground of artists full of lust and rage - to remind us of the delicate idea that we need each other, and embracing that need helps us cope with maladies from loneliness to fascism.

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