United Solo™ is proud to present the annual United Solo Special Award, which honors outstanding solo performers. These are artists who create captivating performances with sensitivity, audacity, and wisdom. They remind us of immense power of a singular performer, and the possibilities of solo storytelling.
 
In 2018, the United Solo Academy has nominated six performers for the Special Award: Derek DelGaudio, Alison S. M. Kobayashi, John Lithgow, Chita Rivera, Bruce Springsteen, and Renée Taylor. The winner will be announced at the United Solo Closing Gala on Nov. 18 at Theatre Row on 42nd Street in New York City.

 

Derek DelGaudio explored identity through illusion, mindreading, and self-revelation in his ingenious show In & Of Itself, directed by Frank Oz, and produced by Neil Patrick Harris. A talented magician and conceptual artist, he not only surprised and amazed his audiences, but also made them question their most intimately held beliefs about themselves, and reexamine their unique role and purpose. In the tradition of the greatest solo artists, Mr. DelGaudio made the hearts and minds of his audience the true subject of his groundbreaking show.

In Say Something Bunny!, Alison S.M. Kobayashi solved the mystery of two antiquated voice recorder reels that she found by accident, transporting her audience through time to investigate a long-ago dinner party and its guests. Using incomplete clues suggesting family relationships and emotional complexities, Ms. Kobayashi embarked on a deeply empathic journey to fill in the blanks. She found humanity in the ordinariness of the past with an enchanting blend of documentary and compassionate storytelling.

The expansive scope of John Lithgow’s storied talents created unforgettable and riveting portrayals of nefarious villains, tragic heroes, and comic everymen. In Stories by Heart, Mr. Lithgow shared the stories through which he bonded with his devoted father, and explained how their mutual love of literature sustained them through life’s most difficult trials. An artist equally virtuosic and humane, Mr. Lithgow’s mastery of his eternally expressive instrument is matched only by his depth of feeling.

The iconic Chita Rivera, an exhilarating and beloved presence on Broadway for many decades, is a consummate and irresistible performer. Through brilliant artistic choices both precise and powerful, she reveals the mysterious essence of a song, and its unrelenting passion. In An Evening with Chita Rivera, Ms. Rivera interpreted her favorite songs with authority, dazzling charisma, and undiminished vigor. She captured the dizzying rhythm of life with the vitality of someone who relishes every moment.

A legendary rock musician who expressed toughness and yearning in a single lyric, Bruce Springsteen gave voice to the hopes and fears of the American working class for almost half a century. In Springsteen on Broadway, Mr. Springsteen gave a deeply personal performance of rousing anthems together with heartfelt paeans to pain, loss, ambivalence and protest. His generous stories revealed an artist who, despite his success, never stopped questioning and evolving, reflecting his volatile times.

With warmth and graceful humor, Renée Tayor’s My Life on a Diet chronicles Ms. Taylor’s all-too-relatable relationship with food, and her journey as a comic actress through the superficiality and body-consciousness of show business. Nostalgic anecdotes of childhood and adolescence, encounters with classic Hollywood celebrities, and the loving marriage that nourished her through times both abundant and lean—come together in a charming, funny and wise rumination on going through life with a hearty appetite.

*Nominees have been recommended by the United Solo Academy as well as independent theatergoers.

**Winners are selected by an independent panel of over eighty theatre professionals.

***United Solo encourages enthusiasts of the solo form to suggest their favorite performers for the annual United Solo Special Award. Feel free to send us a brief email that includes the name of the performer, the title of the event, website (if applicable), date and place it was performed, and the reason for your choice. You may suggest an artist from many genres of solo performance open to the public (e.g. storytelling, puppetry, dance, movement, concert, musical, spoken word, multimedia, sketch, improv, stand‑up, lecture, magic, performance art, online video, TV special, DVD release, traditional play: drama or comedy). Send your recommendation to: uAward‑recommendation@unitedsolo.org

 

Photo of Derek Delgaudio by Bryce Craig. Photo of Alison S. M. Kobayashi by Vincent Tullo. Photo of John Lithgow by Robert Zuckerman. Photo of Chita Rivera by Studio Sarah Lou/Sarah Ackerman, CC BY 2.0 (Flickr: sackerman519). Photo of Bruce Springsteen by Bill Ebbesen, CC BY-SA 3.0. Photo of Renée Taylor by Jeremy Daniel.

 

More about other winners and nominees: 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018