United Solo™ is proud to present the annual United Solo Special Award, which honors outstanding solo artists who performed their shows outside the Festival. 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 2021, the United Solo Academy has nominated five performers for the Special Award: Tovah Feldshuh in Tovah Feldshuh is Leona, Harriet Harris in Eleanor, Ruben Santiago Hudson in Lackawanna Blues, Lee Roy Reams in Remembering Jerry Herman, and André De Shields in Black by Popular Demand.
The winner will be announced at our closing Gala on November 21st at Theatre Row NYC. This year’s recipient will join such illustrious past honorees, including Anna Deavere Smith (2010), Patti LuPone (2011), John Leguizamo (2012), Fiona Shaw (2013), Billy Crystal (2014), James Lecesne (2015), Staceyann Chin in collaboration with Cynthia Nixon (2016), Michael Moore (2017), Renée Taylor (2018), and Aasif Mandvi (2019), and Ian McKellen (2020).
In Tovah is LEONA! – six time Emmy and Tony nominated star – Tovah Feldshuh assumes the persona of the notorious real estate mogul and so-called “Queen of Mean,” Leona Helmsley. As Helmsley, Ms. Feldshuh sings about her business dealings and meteoric rise to prominence with hilarious, quick-witted charm. Ms. Feldshuh’s performance is accompanied by original music by Ron Passaro with musical direction by James Bassi and directed by Jeff Harnar.
Tony Award-winning actress Harriet Harris earns a nomination for her role in Eleanor, written by Mark St. Germain and produced by the Barrington Stage Company. In her solo piece, Ms. Harris brings to life the incredible story of Eleanor Rosevelt, one of America’s most interesting and influential First Ladies. Eleanor shines for its historical and emotional resonance and its breathtaking title role performance by Ms. Harris.
Tony Award winning writer and director Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s brilliant solo play Lackawanna Blues tells the story of his upbringing in a boarding house in upstate New York. In a masterclass of storytelling, Mr. Santiago-Hudson portrays 24 characters, exploring intricately their motivations, hardships, and needs. The production is accompanied by live music composed by Bill Sims, Jr., and performed by Blues Hall of Fame Guitarist Junior Mack.
Lee Roy Reams’ solo cabaret show, Remembering Jerry Herman celebrates his collaboration with the late musical theater legend. Presented by the York Theatre Company, Reams’ show features songs and stories from Herman’s most celebrated musicals, including Hello, Dolly!, Mame, La Cage Aux Folles, and more. Mr. Reams’ celebration of Herman’s life and work is richly textured, uplifting, and very much at home on Broadway.
André De Shields
Tony Award-winner André De Shields is nominated for Black by Popular Demand. In his show, Mr. De Shields’ inimitable wit and elegance are on full display. As the multi-talented De Shields sings and dances his way through the show, he shares well-earned opinions and reflects on questions of race, happiness, and humanity. His fifty-one career has spanned the worlds of Shakespeare, Broadway, film, television and recording and is still going strong.