In 2011, the United Solo board has nominated four performers for the Special Award: Daniel Beaty in Through the Night (Union Square Theater, NYC), John Lithgow in Stories by Heart (performed countrywide), Patti LuPone in The Gypsy in My Soul (performed countrywide), and Robin Williams in Weapons of Self-Destruction (DVD release).
The 2011 Special Award went to Patti LuPone. In her acceptance remarks, Ms. LuPone expressed: I am surprised and touched to receive this award, and also honored to be in the company of such wonderful performers as John Lithgow, Robin Williams and Daniel Beaty. Thank you to United Solo and its Academy for this recognition, which I share with my director Scott Wittman and musical director Joseph Thalken. It’s always a wonderful thing to win an award, but when it comes so unexpectedly and from such an eclectic and international group of artists as the Academy of United Solo it’s even more so. Thank you so much.
In portraying generations of black men struggling to break with tradition and pursue unique and ambitious dreams, Daniel Beaty in Through the Night conjures up a strong and heterogenous community of strivers who are fearful, tenacious and proud. Mr. Beaty’s story transcends genre and convention, and he explores urban issues with lyricism, sober conviction, a dramatic sense of urgency, and respect for the stakes involved. By placing his characters in stark contrast and relief, Mr. Beaty manifests the power of solo interpretation of linear, multi-character narrative.
In Stories by Heart, John Lithgow delighted audiences by telling family stories and virtuosically enacting P. G. Wodehouse’s Uncle Fred Flits By and Ring Lardner’s Haircut in a performance of exemplary craft and irrepressible spirit. Directed by Jack O’Brien, Mr. Lithgow’s masterful grasp of physical comedy and his willingness to recount his family’s toughest moments reminded us that storytelling is at the heart of relationships and that the best stories bring out enthusiasm and compassion in their tellers and listeners alike.
Few performers have been as instrumental in preserving the heritage of musical theater and dedicated to perpetuating it into the future as Patti LuPone. Having portrayed a myriad of iconic roles, Ms. LuPone epitomizes the distinguished and illustrious theater artist. Her solo concert, The Gypsy In My Soul, featured diverse selections from the American songbook that represented the delicacy and integrity of which musical theater is capable. Both traditional and daring, and always emotionally true, Ms. LuPone’s performance revealed the depth of possibilities of dramatic song.
Robin Williams transformed the landscape of American comedy throughout a legendary career, and he remains a visionary performer of astonishing versatility and imagination. Weapons of Self Destruction featured his riffs on political and personal phenomena in his inimitably effusive style. Mr. Williams incisively commented on wars, the recession and global warming, while candidly discussing aging and heart surgery. After decades in show business, Mr. Williams continues to be a singular artist with an indomitable urge to create.