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 2018 United Solo Special Award was presented to Renée Taylor at the ceremony held on November 18, 2018 at Theatre Row on 42nd Street in New York City. Ms. Taylor joins previous recipients of this award: Anna Deavere Smith (2010), Patti LuPone (2011), John Leguizamo (2012), Fiona Shaw (2013), Billy Crystal (2014), James Lecesne (2015), Staceyann Chin & Cynthia Nixon (2016), and Michael Moore (2017).
In her acceptance speech, Ms. Taylor said: “I’m so surprised. I came here thinking I was going to present flowers to Bruce Springsteen,” and added, “I’m very grateful for receiving an award from United Solo — it’s a very prestigious honor. Now I can say: I am an award-winning show! Thank you.”
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.
ALISON S.M. KOBAYASHI
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 Taylor’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.