The Tony Awards will present three special prizes to David Byrne’s concert-performance “American Utopia” and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Freestyle Love Supreme” as part of the upcoming awards ceremony on September 26.
The Tonys will also present a special prize to the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, arts-based nonprofit that aims to use storytelling to dismantle the systems that perpetuate racism.
Byrne’s “American Utopia,” a stage show from the Talking Heads frontman that combines Byrne’s music with the Talking Heads and his solo career with dance in a unique format, played more than 150 dates in 27 countries, including with a Broadway run between 2019 and 2020. Spike Lee then produced a live, filmed version of the stage show that premiered at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival and landed on HBO Max. “American Utopia” reopens on Broadway Sept. 17.
“Freestyle Love Supreme” is a show created by Miranda and Thomas Kail in which no two productions are the same and performers use words and ideas contributed from the audience, with casts rotating and lending an improvised, musical comedy structure. The show will return to Broadway for a strictly limited engagement at the Booth Theatre beginning on October 7 and running until January 2, 2022.
The Broadway Advocacy Coalition, founded in 2016 by several Black members of the Broadway community in response to ongoing racism and police brutality, 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. The group recently collaborated the Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School and created a a course called “Theater of Change.” The group has also collaborated with the New York City Council and the Brooklyn D.A.’s office, as well as had campaigns that featured Jesse Williams, Fiona Apple, Alec Baldwin and more.
The Broadway League traditionally presents special awards to outstanding productions, artists and organizations that do not fall into any of the traditional competitive categories.
“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,” Heather Hitchens, CEO and president of the American Theatre Wing, and Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, said in a 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.”
The Tony Awards are presented by the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing and will host the awards presentation of the 74th Annual Tony Awards at 7:00 PM / 4:00 PM PT live exclusively on Paramount+. The show will then be followed by “The Tony Awards Present: Broadway’s Back!” on CBS.