In 2012, the United Solo board has nominated four performers for the Special Award: Kathy Griffin in Kathy Griffin Wants a Tony (The Belasco Theater), John Hurt in Krapp’s Last Tape (Brooklyn Academy of Music), Hugh Jackman in Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway (The Broadhurst Theatre), and John Leguizamo in Ghetto Klown (The Lyceum Theatre).
The 2012 Special Award went to John Leguizamo. In his acceptance speech, Mr. Leguizamo said: One-man show is the thing that I live for, the thing that made me, the thing I can’t live without because it’s my mode of expression. I wanted to do this piece to inspire the youth of America that if I can make it, then you can make it. And that was the simple message. And I think one-man shows can do that. They can give a very personal message because… it’s the most honest communication that I know of. So this particularly means a lot to me. And I want to thank all of you and especially the people nominated alongside of me. Hugh Jackman, the great Kathy Griffin, John Hurt, all these great talented people, and this award is for all of us. Thank you.
Not only is Kathy Griffin an iconic stand‑up comedian and irrepressible media personality, she is a tenacious spokeswoman for the underdog, skewering fatuous pop culture and reactionary thinking in the same breath. In her solo show, Kathy Griffin Wants a Tony, Ms. Griffin wove together personal anecdotes and celebrity gossip, but her rapid‑fire, irreverent and exuberant voice reveals a spirit of egalitarian inclusivity. Ms. Griffin’s performances are as much blissful celebrations of difference and deviance as they are the epitome of hilarious, incisive, take‑no‑prisoners social satire.
Veteran British actor John Hurt redefined Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape in a harrowing, powerful, and universally acclaimed performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last season. Embodying a volatile senior revisiting the audio journal he recorded as a younger man, Mr. Hurt unforgettably conjured a weary and despairing soul with astonishing depth and humanity. In his long‑awaited New York stage debut, Mr. Hurt showed us a figure moored in nostalgia and railing against age, mortality, and the elusive nature of happiness.
Hugh Jackman is one of the most esteemed and versatile performers in theater and film, and his celebrity rightly matches the expansive, euphoric range of his incredible talent. In his recent one‑man revue, Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway, the charismatic Mr. Jackman shared his generous gifts as a song‑and‑dance man. Dazzling and jubilant in numbers from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Peter Allen, Mr. Jackman proved himself to be a consummate entertainer, singlehandedly delighting audiences of thousands.
Ghetto Klown is only the latest of John Leguizamo‘s five autobiographical storytelling shows, which secured his position as one of the most accomplished practitioners of the genre. Having gotten his start on the New York City stand‑up circuit, Mr. Leguizamo is a dedicated ambassador of multiculturalism and civic pride. As he chronicles his impoverished Queens upbringing and his attempts to break through show business stereotypes as a Latino actor, Mr. Leguizamo humorously evokes personal triumphs and setbacks with unflinching honesty and the courage to reveal his innermost insecurities and fears for the sake of art.