Broadway Stage’Cation: American Utopia is Perfection

You may ask yourself, what is that beautiful show? Part thrilling David Byrne concert, part MoMA-worthy visual art exhibit, part celebration of the resiliency and integral hope that resides in human spirit, part spontaneous dance party as the talents of the percussionists and magnetic dancers lock into the audience’s inner rhythm-minders and pull them to their feet despite traditional Broadway etiquette expectations— the show is simply fantastic in the true sense of the word. The experience goes far beyond the Talking Heads faves that dot the performance, effortlessly vocalized with stunning energy. It’s also a little hard to nail down into one category. Same as it ever was.

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Byrne’s intelligence seeps through charming and genuine social musings (the man rode a bike to the MET Gala) which lead the show from each iconic song to whirlwind of dramatic light and movement. Dancer vocalists Chris Giarmo and Tendayi Kuumba manage to do the impossible and command attention despite the rock legend’s intense allure. Musicians are also generously highlighted, their personalities celebrated as they become actors, performers, poets. The experience is ultimately joyful and intimate, whether under the electric gaze of Byrne down front or seeing the spectacle from the mezz— you are drawn in feeling not merely part of the show, but part of the band.

American Utopia is a great show to see in this era simply because it’s unprecedented, beautiful to watch and to listen to,” says Percussionist Stéphane San Juan. “It also has a strong message and makes you think about our lives and society. I find it even more special after the unusual period of time we all went through. It will give you a perspective that many of us lost during the pandemic, the possibilities of change we all need, as well as joy from hundreds of people being able to share an intense moment together again.”

The show was one of many that was hit by the Covid pause, but manages to feel as fresh as ever.

“It was like centuries had passed and something inside us had shifted, changing the meaning of the show,” says Choreographer Annie-B Parson. “But at the same time, it was also like no time had passed and everything snapped right back as if we had performed yesterday! I think that’s how the pandemic layered experience; it’s really very trippy.”

Do you have to be a David Byrne superfan to enjoy this show? Not in the slightest—Broadway-worthy talent is talent and the showmanship of the production is a treat for the senses. Will you leave one? Absolutely.

 

Where to Stay — The Times Square EDITION

When looking for a hotel that could match the visionary’s elegance, style, energy, and artistic flair (along with an ideal location)… only one property would fit the playbill. The modern luxury of the Times Square EDITION is an oasis from the garish blur of life in the center of Broadway’s hub below.

Floor-to-ceiling glass walls of the well-appointed rooms look down to the TKTS booth’s winding lines of hopeful theatregoers, tourists snapping shots with naked cow’folk and a unique 18-foot-tall mosaic, interactive fountain sculpture by Pamela Council, made with over 365,000 acrylic fingernails. The chaos of life below is washed away by muted tones of the refined decor and a sea of serene twinkly city lights backed by views of the Hudson.

 

Photo: Liz Clayman

Service is impeccable throughout the 452-room property which features a state-of-the-art fitness center, cabaret performance venue, and numerous unique dining experiences developed by Michelin-starred Chef John Fraser. The sophisticated Lobby Bar is a place to see and be seen while sipping an excellent libation like the Opalina (Belvedere, lemongrass, white peppercorn cordial, Citron), reached through a dramatic fireside lounging nook. Visual treats greet guests from check-in to very reluctant check-out.

Where to Eat—The Terrace

The Terrace and Outdoor Gardens continues the visual wow factor, as diners are cozily ensconced in candlelit greenery— with romantic skyline views, in season. Stopping in for pre-show snack of chilled black truffle-laced Maine Lobster or Little Ram Oysters (pink peppercorn mignonette) and martinis (try the Chile—Hendrick’s, tiny but potent St. George chile, Kina Avion) while returning for a full meal is one valid strategy.

 

When you do, don’t miss the Yellowfin Crudo with sunflower seeds and crispy garlic, Steamed Alaskan King Crab tagliatelle and Filet Mignon with bone marrow butter and hazelnuts. An excellent special occasion dining hideaway (and excuse to order the size-of-your-head chocolate soufflé with Grand Marnier gelato).

Again, some of the best service and ambiance in midtown can be enjoyed—both experience and location elevated above what one might hope for in the heart of the theatre district.

Where to Afterparty— Paradise Club

House of Yes

Where does one follow an evening of American Utopia but in Paradise Club, a mere elevator ride from “home”. This late night (11pm-4am) culture entertainment space is an inventive, chaotic, high production spectacle featuring themed signature parties and world class DJs every Friday and Saturday. Lined by a 90-foot mural ‘Grains of Golden Sand’ by En Viu the spot features immersive and kinetic lighting effects designed by Tony and Academy Award-winning Fisher Marantz of Studio 54 fame.

“Paradise Club is a place of aspiration…Invention and reinvention…A refuge to enjoy life and forget life and the perfect place to escape into fantasy.” – Ian Schrager

 

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