amBroadway | ‘American Utopia’ has encore run, two plays to close early and more

“American Utopia” will make its return to Broadway. (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

‘American Utopia’ triumphs in encore run

Two years ago, Talking Heads frontman David Byrne wowed Broadway with his sleek, experimental, genre-defying ensemble mega-concert “American Utopia.” After being filmed for HBO by Spike Lee and winning a Special Tony Award, “American Utopia” has now returned to Broadway for an encore run. The show (in which Byrne is joined by a versatile ensemble of musician-dancer-singers) remains pretty damn spectacular and exhilarating. But more than that, its themes of social disconnect, building community, and political awareness and activism make it feel as if it was written for this particular moment in time, with people in the process of spiritually and mentally recovering from the pandemic. 

“Is This A Room” and “Dana H.” will close early

“Is This A Room” and “Dana H.,” two short, strange, surreal, deeply unsettling, and highly acclaimed docudramas that recently opened on Broadway after having been produced at Off-Broadway’s Vineyard Theatre prior to the pandemic, will close weeks ahead of schedule on Nov. 14 due to low box office grosses. “While we would’ve loved to run through our original end date, we recognize that we are in a challenging landscape for live performance and we’re grateful to have had a chance to share this work,” the producers said in a statement. 

As a self-protective measure against potential bad publicity, Broadway shows are not reporting weekly grosses this season, which makes it difficult to assess which shows are selling out or at least selling enough tickets to cover basic running costs. “Is This A Room” and “Dana H” the mark first shows to close early since Broadway reopened following the shutdown – and could very well be followed by more shows in the coming weeks.

Broadway to dim lights for McNally

The lights will be dimmed on Wednesday evening, Nov. 3 in memory of the prolific playwright Terrence McNally, who died during the early days of the pandemic at age 81. Had he still been alive, McNally would have turned 83 on Nov. 3. McNally’s plays include “Frankie and Johnny…,” “Corpus Christi,” “Love! Valour! Compassion!,” and “Master Class.” He also wrote the books for the musicals “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” “Ragtime,” “The Full Monty,” and “Anastasia.”

Stachel exits cast of ‘The Visitor’

Ari’el Stachel, who earned a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for “The Band’s Visit,” has exited the cast of the new Off-Broadway musical “The Visitor,” which is currently in previews at the Public Theater. On Twitter, the Public Theater wrote that the actor and the theater “made a mutual decision that he will step away from ‘The Visitor’ and his role in the production.” Stachel has been replaced by Ahmad Maksoud, who had been Stachel’s understudy. Stachel was involved in the development of the musical (which is based on a 2007 film of the same name about a widower who befriends a young immigrant couple) for six years.