History of Solo Performance &

Solo Broadway Catalog

 

Solo performance has existed in some form or another for thousands of years, and is perhaps the oldest form of storytelling. In the time before written history existed, oral storytelling was the main way that people passed information from one generation to the next. As such, the storytelling needed to be both educational and engaging, so that audiences would pay close attention.

Over time, early human tribes saw the rise of shamans whose job it was to retell oral histories. These shamans were often given special status, even mystical status, as the sacred holders of knowledge. And because so much primitive culture revolved around myths, the stories often included supernatural elements. In many cases, these myths were also allegorical or in some other way symbolic, so that they could teach important lessons while also entertaining younger listeners.

 

As human civilizations became more organized, so too did storytelling. Mystic shamans slowly gave way to professional bards. These bards continued to blend education with entertainment, often incorporating music and character acting when they retold ancient stories.

 

Eventually, society progressed to the point where history became regularly written down. When this era arrived, storytelling developed more creative elements, because it was no longer a necessary way of passing down tribal histories. Stories still sought to educate the audience, but there was more room for symbolism and showmanship: The tales served more to remind people about key lessons than to pass along an exact account of what had actually happened long ago. Hence, storytelling became more of a form of art and entertainment, and so theater began in earnest.

 

The Greeks and Romans pioneered many aspects of the theater that we are familiar with today. With particular regard to solo theater, they pioneered dramatic monologues. These monologues were again a combination of education and entertainment: They told citizens the mythical history of the civilization, but also used dramatic elements like fast-paced action and dynamic delivery to keep audiences engaged. In some cases, playwrights in antiquity even gave their plays very different endings from the traditional myths, perhaps for added dramatic effect. The trend in storytelling moved more and more toward putting on an engaging performance that conveyed a message, rather than staying entirely true to the original historical account.

Between the fall of the Greek and Roman civilizations and the burgeoning of the European ones, there was apparently a lull in solo performance. Greeks and Romans had found a religious catharsis in theater, which took a while to catch on in Christianity. Also, during the Dark Ages there simply hadn’t been a European society stable enough to organize theater in any substantial way. Other civilizations flourished in the Middle East during this time period, but very little is documented about theatrical performance. (These civilizations were driven by the rise of Islam, and so most historical documentation concerns religious doctrine and military conquests.)

 

In later eras, Medieval England and France saw a healthy presence of solo performers. In England these performers were minstrels, and France they were Troubadours. Both countries’ solo performers were essentially bards who told narrative stories or lyric poetry, often accompanied by music. Again, the stories combined educational and entertaining elements, by conveying important lessons in engaging ways.

The printing press rose to prominence in Europe in the 1450s. This invention allowed plays to flourish for two reasons. First, the plays themselves could be recorded in writing, and so they could be revived and readapted any number of times. And second, history could be recorded much more easily, meaning that oral storytelling was even less crucial in preserving past tales. As such, theater became even more concerned with entertainment: While plays still sought to tell meaningful stories and convey important messages, performers had more freedom to write creative tales, and/or tell personal stories instead of society-wide histories.

 

By the 1800s, solo performance had more commonly become an outlet for playwrights and performers to tell deeply personal stories that mattered to them. Families would often gather around a fireplace and read popular stories aloud, such as tales by Charles Dickens or Edgar Allan Poe. They also read from the Bible or from older writers like Shakespeare. So again, the readings were often educational, using performance as an engaging way of conveying information. Without TV or movies, people depended on engaging storytelling for entertainment; so, even these fireplace storytelling sessions could get quite elaborate.

Charles Dickens and Mark Twain were both prolific solo performers. Dickens was an immensely popular actor who would often read his own work aloud for audiences (though he is mostly known now for his writing by itself). His performances drew an incredibly fervent crowd, almost like rock concerts today: Spectators often fought tooth and nail for a chance to see him perform. Similarly, Mark Twain was a very popular lecturer/monologist. Sometimes his performances were straightforward speeches, and other times he delivered his monologues as a character or incorporated other dramatic elements. These two writers further popularized the genre of one-person storytelling, in their respective societies.

 

By the early 20th century, solo theater had come very close to its present form. Multiple socioeconomic factors made theater more popular: First, society was stable and wealthy enough to afford widespread providers of commercial theater; second, the increased ease of printing made stories more widely diffused; and third, theater had a kind of elite status among forms of entertainment because it was the most interactive and cutting-edge technology available. (Films and TV were available in crude forms, but early films were silent and in black and white, so theater provided a more realistic and engrossing medium.) In regard to solo theater specifically, reenactments of Mark Twain’s monologues and other popular stories remained reasonably popular. Then in the late 20th century, major solo theater figureheads like Spalding Gray spearheaded the one-person art form.

 

Modern solo theater comes in many different forms. Some shows are autobiographical, since the solo medium is a very intimate opportunity for the performer to tell a personal story. Other shows are biographical tributes to famous figures, living or dead. In other cases, performers adapt pre-existing novels or non-solo plays to work with one actor. Modern solo theater has also historically been popular among comedians and poets, due to similarities with stand-up comedy and slam poetry. However, solo theater differentiates itself from stand-up comedy and slam poetry because it incorporates a plot or other type of storyline. Moreover, all of the above types of shows can incorporate multimedia, such as projections of still images or video clips.

There are several well-known educators who specialize in teaching one-person theater performance. These educators include Deb Margolin and Matt Hoverman, both of whom serve on AFO’s Advisory Board. Deb Margolin is an Associate Professor in Yale University’s undergraduate Theater Studies program, a founding member of Split Britches Theater Company, and a playwright and performer of solo work. Matt Hoverman is an award-winning playwright, actor, and extremely prominent solo show coach in NYC; his immensely popular “Create Your Own Solo Show” workshops have helped develop over 100 solo shows that have been produced all over the world. Several prestigious universities also offer classes on solo performance, including Brown, University of Chicago, and of course Deb Margolin’s class at Yale.

 

If you love solo performance, and really want to experience an awe-inspiring collection of immortalized masterpieces, the New York Public Library has a special archive called TOFT, or “Theater On Film and Tape.” Established in 1970, TOFT was the first archive of its kind in the world, and remains the largest, with over 7,700 recordings comprising live performance, interviews, documentary films, television programs, and other theater-related video recordings. The National Video Archive of Performance in London, as well as the Washington Area Performing Arts Video Archive in Washington, D.C., were both modeled specifically on TOFT. The Archive maintains an active original documentation program, recording between 50 – 60 productions each year. Thousands of theater pieces are currently recorded there, where students, theater professionals, or researchers can watch them for free. So many solo actor legends reside there, such as Lynn Redgrave and Julie Harris. For no trouble at all, they’ll give a one-on-one special presentation just for you.

The New York Public Library has several different building locations. The TOFT archive is in the building at 40 Lincoln Center Plaza, at the corner of 65th and Amsterdam, near the Lincoln Center 1 Train stop. It’s on the third floor, in back right area relative to the elevators. To start viewing shows, you call in advance to make an appointment, and tell the librarian which shows you’d like to see. Then, when you arrive for your appointment, the librarian assigns you to a TV screen where your shows have been pre-loaded. Somewhere else in the library, another librarian is physically putting the DVDs into a player for you, and you’re watching them remotely on your screen. You can communicate with the DVD-loading librarian by using a small computer screen next to your TV, sending simple messages like, “Load next selection please” or “Wrong video” or “Thanks, I’m finished for today.” You can also use the computer screen to play, pause, rewind, or fast-forward your selection. The viewing room has dozens of screens arranged like carrels, so you’ll likely see some other people nearby watching different shows.

 

On my venture into the archive, I decided to watch three different solo shows: The Belle of Amherst, Shakespeare for My Father, and Rob Becker’s Defending the Caveman. The Bell of Amherst was on DVD, or at least I deduced that by the way that I could fast-forward and rewind by chapter or go back to a menu screen. Shakespeare for My Father, on the other hand, was on VHS, judging from the way it fast-forwarded and rewound like a tape. Defending the Caveman was on DVD as well. I chose these three pieces because they were all popular and critically acclaimed pieces, and they offered a range of styles of solo performance. The Belle of Amherst is a biographical play about the poet Emily Dickinson, where the actress portrays Emily for the entire show. By contrast, in Shakespeare for My Father, the actress is playing herself, describing her own life and her relationship with her family; this second play also incorporates singing. Lastly, Defending the Caveman is close to stand-up comedy: It has a loose narrative, largely consisting of jokes that all fit along a common theme.

 

The Belle of Amherst came on first. It was definitely my favorite of the 3 shows that I watched. I personally love Emily Dickinson’s poetry, and I enjoyed peeking into the life of the poem. Julie Harris gave a great performance, provoking lots of laughs from her audience. The Belle of Amherst was also the most immersive show that I watched: It had an elaborate set that really made me feel like I was in an old house, with tables and desks and dressers covered in everyday items like books and silverware. Moreover, Harris interacted with the set a lot, such as by putting on clothes that were hanging from various hooks or sitting down in different chairs. She played no other characters besides Dickinson–instead, she acknowledged the presence of other characters by having conversations with them. While we could only hear her side of the conversations, her replies made it clear with that other person had said. She spoke to the audience like an intimate confidant, a trusted guest visiting her home. Dickinson’s poetry was also woven into the story, sometimes through a passing reference and sometimes through a direct reading or recitation. The use of lighting was also excellent: At times when Dickinson’s life was sad or waning, the set would grow dark, so that only a thin beam of light meagerly illuminated the actress. This play did a great job of drawing me in and holding my attention.

 

Next came Shakespeare for My Father. This particular recording was actually from a workshop. (With so many shows getting converted to DVD, the selection of solo theater pieces was temporarily slim.) The set was very minimal, as I would have expected from a workshop: There was just Lynn Redgrave speaking directly to the audience, with a few items in the background. The play consisted of numerous Shakespearean or Shakespearean-style monologues, intercut with autobiographical information from Redgrave’s life. Redgrave went through many shifts in tone during the play, ranging from comedic to austere.

 

Finally, Rob Becker’s Defending the Caveman was just a few minutes of funny clips, all of which were quite enjoyable. At first the librarian loaded the wrong DVD, so I got to use the “Wrong Video” button that I’d been so curious about. The librarian who was loading the DVDs had to call the librarian who supervised the viewing room, to check which shows I’d reserved and correct the mistake. After a couple minutes, I was back on track. Rob Becker’s piece had a fairly elaborate set, laid out like the living room of a caveman’s house: There was a TV made out of a giant rock, some furniture made out of even more rocks, and so on. His performance was less about a narrative and more about interrelated jokes, but it offered quite a lot of social commentary.

 

Overall, I left the library feeling happy that there is a massive reservoir of past theater pieces preserved there. Solo artists (and other people interested in exploring solo work) can immerse themselves in any manner of excellent one-person pieces. There is so much opportunity to learn from great artists, or simply admire them. In the end, the TOFT archive is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in solo theater, whether you’re an actor, director, producer, or theatergoer. All For One highly recommends exploring this resource, as a great way to experience superb one-person theater pieces. As All For One continues to grow, it is important to preserve the past so that we can look at the entire history of solo performance: Its mythical origins, its Broadway triumphs, and its golden future.

-Michael Wolk

Artistic Director

Sources

Bonney, Jo; Anthology (February 1, 1999). “preface xiii”. In Jo Bonney.

Extreme Exposure: An Anthology of Solo Performance Texts from the

Twentieth Century (1st ed.). Theatre Communications Group; 1st edition.

p. 450. ISBN 1-55936-155-7. Brown University. Course Catalog, 2014.

 

Callow, Simon. Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World. New

York: Random House, 2012. Print.

 

Catron, Louis E. The Power of One: The Solo Play for Playwrights, Actors, and

Directors. Long Grove: Waveland Press, 2009. Print.

 

Ewans, Michael (2007). Opera from the Greek: Studies in the Poetics of

Appropriation. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 0-7546-6099-0, ISBN 978-0-

7546-6099-6. Print.

 

Febvre, Lucien; Martin, Henri-Jean (1976): “The Coming of the Book: The

Impact of Printing 1450-1800”, London: New Left Books, 1993. Print.

 

Hobsbaum, Philip (1998) [1972]. A reader’s guide to Charles Dickens. Syracuse

University Press. ISBN 978-0-8156-0475-4. Print.

 

Internet Broadway Database, The. “List of Solo Shows.” Broadway Show Database, 26

Feb. 2015. Web.

 

Lee, Judith Yaross. “Mark Twain as a Stand-up Comedian,” The Mark Twain

Annual (2006) #4 pg. 3–23. Print.

 

Silko, L. Storyteller. New York: Seaver Books, 1981. Print.

 

Sommerstein, Alan (2002). Greek Drama and Dramatists. Routledge Press.

ISBN 0-203-42498-0, ISBN 978-0-203-42498-8. Print.

 

University of Chicago. Course Catalog, 2015.

 

Yale University. Staff Directory, 2015.

Catalog Of All Solo Shows Produced on Broadway

1. 700 Sundays [Original] Play, Solo

    Opening: Dec 5, 2004

    Closing: Jun 12, 2005

    Performance Count: 163

4. A Christmas Carol [Original] Play, Solo

    Opening: Dec 19, 1991

    Closing: Dec 29, 1991

    Performance Count: 14

7. A Christmas Carol [Revival] Play, Solo

    Opening: Dec 24, 2001

    Closing: Dec 30, 2001

    Performance Count: 8

10. A Mom’s Life [Original] Play, Solo

     Opening: Oct 19, 1998

     Closing: Nov 2, 1998

     Performance Count: 3

13. Ages of Man [Revival] Play, Solo, Drama

      Opening: Apr 14, 1963

      Closing: Apr 21, 1963

      Performance Count: 8

16. An Evening With Mario Cantone [Original]  Special, Solo, Stand-up, Comedy

      Opening: May 19, 2002

      Closing: Jun 17, 2002

      Performance Count: 4

 

19. An Evening With Yves Montand [Original]         Special, Solo

      Opening: Oct 24, 1961

      Closing: Dec 16, 1961

      Performance Count: 55

22. As Long As We Both Shall Laugh [Original]       Special, Solo, Comedy

      Opening: Apr 7, 2003

      Closing: May 26, 2003

      Performance Count: 15

25. Banjo Dancing [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Oct 21, 1980

      Closing: Nov 30, 1980

      Performance Count: 38

 

28. Blues, Ballads and Sin-Songs [Original]           Play, Concert, Solo

      Opening: Oct 4, 1954

      Closing: Oct 16, 1954

      Performance Count: 12

31. Brief Lives [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Oct 16, 1974

      Closing: Dec 1, 1974

      Performance Count: 53

34. Buttons On Broadway [Original] Special,           Solo, Stand-up

      Opening: Jun 8, 1995

      Closing: Jul 16, 1995

      Performance Count: 33

37. Characters and Caricatures [Original] Play,       Solo

      Opening: Mar 1, 1937

 

 

 40. Clarence Darrow [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Mar 26, 1974

      Closing: Apr 23, 1974

      Performance Count: 29

43. Colin Quinn: Long Story Short [Original]           Play, Comedy, Solo

      Opening: Nov 9, 2010

      Closing: Mar 5, 2011

      Performance Count: 135

46. Conscience [Original] Play, Drama, Solo

      Opening: May 15, 1952

      Closing: May 17, 1952

      Performance Count: 4

 

49. Diversions and Delights [Original] Play,           Solo

      Opening: Apr 12, 1978

      Closing: Apr 22, 1978

      Performance Count: 13

52. Edna His Wife [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Dec 7, 1937

      Closing: Jan, 1938

      Performance Count: 32

 

55. Emlyn Williams as Charles Dickens                   [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Feb 4, 1952

      Closing: Mar 15, 1952

      Performance Count: 48

58. Empress Eugenie [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Mar 30, 1937

      Closing: Mar 30, 1937

      Performance Count: 1

61. Ghetto Klown [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Mar 22, 2011

      Closing: Jul 10, 2011

      Performance Count: 95

64. Golda’s Balcony [Original] Play, Solo,               Drama

      Opening: Oct 15, 2003

      Closing: Jan 2, 2005

      Performance Count: 493

 

 

68. Here Are Ladies [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Mar 29, 1973

      Closing: May 13, 1973

      Performance Count: 40

 

71. I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers       [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Apr 24, 2013

      Closing: Jun 30, 2013

      Performance Count: 71

74. Ian McKellen: Acting Shakespeare                   [Revival] Play, Solo

      Opening: Jan 19, 1984

      Closing: Feb 19, 1984

      Performance Count: 37

77. In County Kerry [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Dec 1, 1936

      Closing: Dec, 1936

      Performance Count: 8

 

80. It’s a Slippery Slope [Original] Special,             One Act, Solo

      Opening: Nov 10, 1996

      Closing: Jan 6, 1997

      Performance Count: 17

 

83. Jackie Mason’s The World According to           Me! [Original] Special, Solo, Stand-up,             Comedy

      Opening: May 2, 1988

      Closing: Dec 31, 1988

      Performance Count: 206

86. Jackie Mason: Politically Incorrect                   [Original] Special, Solo, Stand-up,                   Comedy

      Opening: Apr 5, 1994

      Closing: Jun 4, 1995

      Performance Count: 348

89. Kathy Griffin Wants a Tony [Original]               Special, Comedy, Solo

      Opening: Mar 11, 2011

      Closing: Mar 19, 2011

      Performance Count: 10

92. Laugh Whore [Original] Special, Comedy,         Solo

      Opening: Oct 24, 2004

      Closing: Jan 2, 2005

      Performance Count: 66

95. Love in the Balkans [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Dec 1, 1936

      Closing: Dec, 1936

      Performance Count: 8

98. Lucifer’s Child [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Apr 4, 1991

      Closing: Apr 27, 1991

      Performance Count: 28

 

 

101. Mansion on the Hudson [Revival] Play,             Solo

       Opening: Apr 4, 1937

       Closing: Apr 4, 1937

       Performance Count: 1

 

104. Mark Twain Tonight! [Original] Play, Solo

       Opening: Jun 9, 2005

       Closing: Jun 26, 2005

       Performance Count: 15

107. Men are from Mars, Women are From              Venus [Original] Special, Lecture, Solo

       Opening: Jan 27, 1997

       Closing: Feb 1, 1997

       Performance Count: 7

110. Miss Margarida’s Way [Revival] Play, Solo

       Opening: Feb 15, 1990

       Closing: Feb 25, 1990

       Performance Count: 11

113. Morning, Noon and Night [Original] Play,          Solo

       Opening: Nov 22, 1999

       Closing: Jan 10, 2000

       Performance Count: 12

116. Neil Diamond: One Man Show [Original]          Special, Concert, Solo

       Opening: Oct 5, 1972

       Closing: Oct 21, 1972

 

119. Paris ’90 [Original] Play, Solo, Comedy,          Monologue

       Opening: Mar 4, 1952

       Closing: May 17, 1952

       Performance Count: 87

122. Paul Robeson [Original] Play, Solo, Play           with music

        Opening: Jan 19, 1978

        Closing: Apr 30, 1978

        Performance Count: 77

125. Primo [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Jul 11, 2005

        Closing: Aug 14, 2005

        Performance Count: 35

128. Quick Change [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Oct 30, 1980

        Closing: Nov 2, 1980

        Performance Count: 5

 

131. Rose [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Apr 12, 2000

        Closing: May 20, 2000

        Performance Count: 42

 

134. Say Goodnight Gracie [Original] Play,             Solo, Comedy

       Opening: Oct 10, 2002

       Closing: Aug 24, 2003

       Performance Count: 364

137. Shakespeare for My Father [Original]               Play, Solo

       Opening: Apr 26, 1993

       Closing: Jan 2, 1994

       Performance Count: 266

140. Shirley MacLaine [Original] Special, Solo,        Revue

       Opening: Jul 9, 1976

       Closing: Jul 24, 1976

       Performance Count: 20

 

143. St. Mark’s Gospel [Original] Play, Solo

       Opening: Oct 24, 1978

       Closing: Nov 12, 1978

       Performance Count: 18

146. The Belle of Amherst [Original] Play, Solo

       Opening: Apr 28, 1976

       Closing: Aug 8, 1976

       Performance Count: 116

149. The Importance Of Being Oscar [Original]        Play, Solo

       Opening: Mar 14, 1961

       Closing: Apr 8, 1961

       Performance Count: 31

152. The Miner’s Wife [Original] Play, Solo

       Opening: Dec 1, 1936

       Closing: Dec, 1936

       Performance Count: 8

 

155. The Mystery of Theodosia Burr [Original]         Play, Solo

        Opening: Mar 9, 1947

 

158. The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in         the Universe [Revival] Play, Solo

        Opening: Nov 16, 2000

        Closing: May 20, 2001

        Performance Count: 184

161. The World of Charles Aznavour [Original]         Special, Solo, Concert

        Opening: Oct 14, 1965

        Closing: Nov 6, 1965

        Performance Count: 29

164. Tru [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Dec 14, 1989

        Closing: Sep 1, 1990

        Performance Count: 297

 

 

167. Whoopi [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Nov 17, 2004

        Closing: Jan 30, 2005

        Performance Count: 72

170. Wishful Drinking [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Oct 4, 2009

        Closing: Jan 17, 2010

        Performance Count: 118

2. 700 Sundays [Original] Play, Solo

    Opening: Nov 13, 2013

    Closing: Jan 5, 2014

    Performance Count: 46

5. A Christmas Carol [Revival] Play, Solo

    Opening: Dec 17, 1992

    Closing: Jan 3, 1993

    Performance Count: 22

8. A Condition of Shadows [Original] Play, Solo

    Opening: Nov 7, 1977

    Closing: Nov 21, 1977

    Performance Count: 3

11. A Woman of Independent Means [Original]     Play, Solo

    Opening: May 3, 1984

    Closing: May 13, 1984

    Performance Count: 13

14. An Almost Holy Picture [Original] Play,             Solo, Drama

      Opening: Feb 7, 2002

      Closing: Apr 7, 2002

      Performance Count: 69

17. An Evening with Robert Klein [Original]           Special, Solo

      Opening: Jun 19, 1988

      Closing: Jun 27, 1988

20. Ann [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Mar 7, 2013

      Closing: Jun 30, 2013

      Performance Count: 132

23. Aznavour [Original] Special, Solo, Concert

      Opening: Mar 14, 1983

      Closing: Mar 26, 1983

      Performance Count: 14

26. Bea Arthur on Broadway [Original] Special,       Comedy,Solo

      Opening: Feb 17, 2002

      Closing: Apr 14, 2002

      Performance Count: 65

29. Bridge & Tunnel [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Jan 26, 2006

      Closing: Aug 6, 2006

      Performance Count: 213

32. Bruce Forsyth on Broadway! [Original]             Special, Solo

      Opening: Jun 12, 1979

      Closing: Jun 17, 1979

      Performance Count: 5

35. By George [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Oct 12, 1967

      Closing: Oct 22, 1967

      Performance Count: 13

38. Charles Aznavour [Original] Special, Solo,         Concert

      Opening: Feb 3, 1970

      Closing: Feb 28, 1970

      Performance Count: 23

41. Clarence Darrow [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Mar 3, 1975

      Closing: Mar 22, 1975

      Performance Count: 18

44. Comedy in Music [Original] Special, Solo,       Comedy, Concert

      Opening: Oct 2, 1953

      Closing: Jan 21, 1956

      Performance Count: 849

47. Dame Edna: The Royal Tour [Original]             Special, Solo, Comedy

      Opening: Oct 17, 1999

      Closing: Jul 2, 2000

      Performance Count: 297

 

50. Dorothy Sands [Original] Special, Solo

      Opening: Jan 22, 1933

      Closing: Jan 29, 1933

      Performance Count: 2

53. Elaine Stritch At Liberty [Original] Special,       Solo, Play with music

      Opening: Feb 21, 2002

      Closing: May 27, 2002

      Performance Count: 69

56. Emlyn Williams as Charles Dickens                   [Revival] Play, Solo

      Opening: Apr 20, 1953

      Closing: May 9, 1953

      Performance Count: 24

59. Freak [Original] Play, Solo, Comedy

      Opening: Feb 12, 1998

      Closing: Jul 4, 1998

      Performance Count: 144

62. Gilbert Becaud on Broadway [Original]             Special, Solo

      Opening: Oct 31, 1966

      Closing: Nov 19, 1966

      Performance Count: 19

66. Harry Connick, Jr. in Concert on Broadway       [Original] Special, Concert, Solo

      Opening: Jul 15, 2010

      Closing: Jul 31, 2010

      Performance Count: 15

69. Herman Van Veen: All of Him [Original]           Special, Solo

      Opening: Dec 8, 1982

      Closing: Dec 12, 1982

      Performance Count: 6

72. I’m Still Here…Damn It! [Original] Play,           Solo, Stand-up, Comedy

      Opening: Nov 5, 1998

      Closing: Jan 2, 1999

      Performance Count: 51

75. In a Church in Italy [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Dec 1, 1936

      Closing: Dec, 1936

      Performance Count: 8

78. In County Kerry [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Jan 1, 1937

      Closing: Jan, 1937

      Performance Count: 8

 

 

81. Jack: A Night on the Town with John             Barrymore [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Apr 24, 1996

      Closing: May 5, 1996

      Performance Count: 12

 

84. Jackie Mason: Brand New [Original]                 Special, Solo, Stand-up, Comedy

      Opening: Oct 17, 1990

      Closing: Jun 30, 1991

      Performance Count: 216

87. Jay Johnson: The Two and Only [Original]       Play, Puppets, Solo

      Opening: Sep 28, 2006

      Closing: Nov 26, 2006

      Performance Count: 70

90. Kenny Loggins on Broadway [Original]             Special, Solo, Concert

      Opening: Nov 1, 1988

      Closing: Nov 6, 1988

      Performance Count: 8

93. Lillian [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Jan 16, 1986

      Closing: Feb 23, 1986

      Performance Count: 45

 

96. Love in the Balkans [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Jan 1, 1937

      Closing: Jan, 1937

      Performance Count: 8

99. Mandy Patinkin in Concert [Original]                 Special, Concert, Solo

      Opening: Sep 10, 2001

      Closing: Sep 10, 2001

      Performance Count: 1

 

102. Mark Twain Tonight! [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Mar 23, 1966

        Closing: Jun 11, 1966

        Performance Count: 85

 

105. Matters of the Heart [Original] Special,         Solo, Concert

        Opening: Nov 13, 2000

        Closing: Dec 17, 2000

        Performance Count: 11

108. Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth [Original]         Special, Solo

        Opening: Aug 2, 2012

        Closing: Aug 12, 2012

        Performance Count: 10

 

111. Mister Lincoln [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Feb 25, 1980

        Closing: Mar 9, 1980

        Performance Count: 16

 

114. Mostly Sondheim [Original] Special, Solo,         Concert

        Opening: Jan 14, 2002

        Closing: Aug 25, 2002

        Performance Count: 26

 

117. Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All         [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Nov 17, 2003

        Closing: Nov 17, 2003

        Performance Count: 1

120. Passionate Ladies [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: May 5, 1981

        Closing: May 10, 1981

        Performance Count: 8

 

123. Paul Robeson [Revival] Play, Solo, Play             with music

        Opening: Sep 28, 1988

        Closing: Oct 9, 1988

        Performance Count: 11

 

126. Prune Danish [Original] Special, Solo,               Comedy

        Opening: Oct 22, 2002

        Closing: Dec 1, 2002

        Performance Count: 39

129. Rob Becker’s Defending the Caveman               [Original] Special, Solo, Comedy

        Opening: Mar 26, 1995

        Closing: Jun 22, 1997

        Performance Count: 674

132. Running On Empty [Original] Special,               Solo

        Opening: Oct 9, 2012

        Closing: Oct 20, 2012

        Performance Count: 8

135. Sexaholix [Original] Play, Solo, Comedy

        Opening: Dec 2, 2001

        Closing: Feb 10, 2002

        Performance Count: 67

138. Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It                 [Original] Special, Solo

        Opening: Feb 16, 2012

        Closing: Mar 4, 2012

        Performance Count: 17

141. Shirley Valentine [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Feb 16, 1989

        Closing: Nov 25, 1989

        Performance Count: 324

 

144. St. Mark’s Gospel [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: May 13, 1981

        Closing: May 31, 1981

        Performance Count: 22

147. The Big Love [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Mar 3, 1991

        Closing: Apr 7, 1991

        Performance Count: 41

 

150. The Loves of Charles II [Original] Play,             Solo, Sketches, Solo

        Opening: Dec 27, 1933

        Closing: Jan, 1934

        Performance Count: 23

153. The Miner’s Wife [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Jan 1, 1937

        Closing: Jan, 1937

        Performance Count: 8

 

156. The Playboy of the Weekend World                 [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Nov 16, 1978

        Closing: Dec 10, 1978

        Performance Count: 29

159. The Wives of Henry VIII [Original] Play,         Solo

        Opening: Nov 15, 1931

        Closing: Jan, 1932

        Performance Count: 69

 

162. The World’s a Stage [Original] Special,             Solo, Hypnotism

        Opening: May 12, 1969

        Closing: May 17, 1969

        Performance Count: 6

165. Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 [Original]               Play, Solo

        Opening: Apr 17, 1994

        Closing: Jun 19, 1994

        Performance Count: 72

168. Whoopi Goldberg [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Oct 24, 1984

        Closing: Mar 10, 1985

        Performance Count: 156

171. Yanni [Original] Special, Solo

        Opening: Jun 8, 1993

        Closing: Jun 13, 1993

        Performance Count: 8

3. A Bronx Tale [Original] Special, Solo 

    Opening: Oct 25, 2007                        

    Closing: Feb 24, 2008

    Performance Count: 111

6. A Christmas Carol [Revival] Play, Solo

    Opening: Dec 22, 1994

    Closing: Jan 8, 1995

    Performance Count: 18

9. A Lovely Light [Original] Play, Solo

    Opening: Feb 8, 1960

    Closing: Feb 20, 1960

    Performance Count: 17

12. Ages of Man [Original] Play, Solo, Drama

    Opening: Dec 28, 1958

    Closing: Jan 31, 1959

    Performance Count: 40

15. An Evening With Dave Allen [Original]             Special, Solo, Stand-up

      Opening: Sep 20, 1981

      Closing: Oct 17, 1981

      Performance Count: 28

18. An Evening With Yves Montand [Original]         Special, Solo

      Opening: Sep 22, 1959

      Closing: Oct 31, 1959

      Performance Count: 42

21. Appearing Nitely [Original] Special, Solo,         Comedy

      Opening: Mar 24, 1977

      Closing: Jun 12, 1977

      Performance Count: 96

24. Aznavour [Original] Special, Solo, Concert

      Opening: Oct 21, 1998

      Closing: Nov 15, 1998

      Performance Count: 23

27. Bill Maher: Victory Begins At Home                 [Original] Special, Solo, Comedy

      Opening: May 5, 2003

      Closing: May 18, 2003

      Performance Count: 16

30. Brief Lives [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Dec 18, 1967

      Closing: Dec 30, 1967

      Performance Count: 16

33. Bully [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Nov 1, 1977

      Closing: Nov 5, 1977

      Performance Count: 7

 

36. Casey at the Bat [Original] Special, Poem,        Solo

      Opening: Aug 14, 1888

      Closing: Aug 14, 1888

      Performance Count: 1

39. Charles Aznavour on Broadway [Original]         Special, Solo, Concert

      Opening: Oct 15, 1974

      Closing: Oct 27, 1974

      Performance Count: 16

42. Colin Quinn — An Irish Wake [Original]             Play, Solo

      Opening: Aug 27, 1998

      Closing: Sep 19, 1998

      Performance Count: 22

45. Comedy in Music Opus 2 [Original] Special,       Solo, Comedy, Concert

      Opening: Nov 9, 1964

      Closing: Apr 24, 1965

      Performance Count: 192

48. Danny Gans on Broadway: The Man of             Many Voices [Original] Special, Solo,               Comedy, Impersonations

      Opening: Nov 8, 1995

      Closing: Nov 12, 1995

      Performance Count: 6

51. Edmund Kean [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Sep 27, 1983

      Closing: Oct 29, 1983

      Performance Count: 29

 

54. Elsie Janis [Original] Special, Drama, Solo

      Opening: Jan 1, 1939

      Closing: Jan, 1939

      Performance Count: 4

 

57. Emlyn Williams as Charles Dickens                   [Revival] Play, Solo

      Opening: Jan 14, 1981

      Closing: Feb 1, 1981

      Performance Count: 22

60. George Gershwin Alone [Original] Play,             Play with music, Solo, One Act

      Opening: Apr 30, 2001

      Closing: Jul 22, 2001

      Performance Count: 96

63. Gilbert Becaud Sings Love [Original]                 Special, Solo, Concert

      Opening: Oct 6, 1968

      Closing: Oct 26, 1968

      Performance Count: 17

67. Helen Waren [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Nov 2, 1947

 

70. Hizzoner! [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Feb 23, 1989

      Closing: Mar 5, 1989

      Performance Count: 12

 

73. Ian McKellen: A Knight Out at the Lyceum       [Original] Special, Solo

      Opening: Jun 22, 1994

      Closing: Jun 25, 1994

      Performance Count: 5

76. In a Church in Italy [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Jan 1, 1937

      Closing: Jan, 1937

      Performance Count: 8

79. Insideoutsideandallaround with Shelley             Berman [Original] Special, Solo, Comedy

      Opening: Oct 2, 1980

      Closing: Oct 25, 1980

      Performance Count: 28

82. Jackie Mason’s The World According to Me!       [Original] Special, Solo, Stand-up,                   Comedy

      Opening: Dec 22, 1986

      Closing: Jan 2, 1988

      Performance Count: 367

85. Jackie Mason: Freshly Squeezed                   [Original]       Play, Solo

      Opening: Mar 23, 2005

      Closing: Sep 4, 2005

      Performance Count: 172

 

88. Julia Sweeney’s God Said “Ha!” [Original]       Play, Solo

      Opening: Nov 19, 1996

      Closing: Dec 8, 1996

      Performance Count: 22

91. Kipling [Original] Play, Solo

      Opening: Oct 10, 1984

      Closing: Oct 21, 1984

      Performance Count: 12

94. Liza’s at the Palace…. [Original] Special,           Concert, Solo

      Opening: Dec 3, 2008

      Closing: Jan 4, 2009

      Performance Count: 22

 

 

97. Love Thy Neighbor [Original] Special, Solo,       Stand-up, Comedy

      Opening: Mar 24, 1996

      Closing: Jan 5, 1997

      Performance Count: 234

100. Mandy Patinkin in Concert: “Dress                   Casual” [Original] Special, Concert, Solo

        Opening: Jul 25, 1989

        Closing: Sep 16, 1989

        Performance Count: 62

103. Mark Twain Tonight! [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Mar 14, 1977

        Closing: Mar 26, 1977

        Performance Count: 11

106. Mei Lan-fang [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Feb 17, 1930

        Performance Count: 41

109. Miss Margarida’s Way [Original] Play,               Solo

        Opening: Sep 27, 1977

        Closing: Jan 1, 1978

        Performance Count: 98

 

112. Monster in a Box [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Jan 21, 1991

        Closing: Mar 12, 1991

        Performance Count: 16

 

115. Much Ado About Everything [Original]               Special, Solo, Comedy

        Opening: Dec 30, 1999

        Closing: Jul 30, 2000

        Performance Count: 186

 

118. Opium [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Oct 5, 1970

        Closing: Oct 10, 1970

        Performance Count: 8

121. Patti LuPone on Broadway [Original]                 Special, Concert, Solo

        Opening: Oct 12, 1995

        Closing: Nov 25, 1995

        Performance Count: 45

124. Paul Robeson [Revival] Play, Solo, Play             with music

        Opening: Dec 20, 1995

        Closing: Dec 31, 1995

        Performance Count: 14

127. QED [Original] Play, Solo, Drama

        Opening: Nov 18, 2001

        Closing: Jun 20, 2002

        Performance Count: 40

130. Robert Klein on Broadway [Original]                 Special, Stand-up, Comedy, Solo

        Opening: Jun 25, 1986

        Closing: Jun 25, 1986

        Performance Count: 2

133. Ruth Draper [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Jan 19, 1936

        Closing: Jan, 1936

        Performance Count: 9

136. Sexaholix [Original] Play, Solo, Comedy

        Opening: Nov 11, 2003

        Closing: Dec 7, 2003

        Performance Count: 28

139. Shirley MacLaine [Original] Special, Solo,         Revue

        Opening: Apr 19, 1976

        Closing: May 1, 1976

        Performance Count: 14

142. Solitary Confinement [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Nov 8, 1992

        Closing: Nov 29, 1992

        Performance Count: 25

145. The Babe [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: May 17, 1984

        Closing: May 20, 1984

        Performance Count: 5

148. The Good Body [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Nov 15, 2004

        Closing: Dec 19, 2004

        Performance Count: 40

 

151. The Loves of Charles II [Revival] Play,             Solo, Sketches, Solo

        Opening: Mar 28, 1937

        Closing: Mar 28, 1937

        Performance Count: 1

154. The Mystery of Charles Dickens [Original]         Play, Comedy, Solo, Monologue

        Opening: Apr 25, 2002

        Closing: May 12, 2002

        Performance Count: 20

157. The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in         the Universe [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Sep 26, 1985

        Closing: Oct 5, 1986

        Performance Count: 391

160. The Wives of Henry VIII [Revival] Play,             Solo

        Opening: Apr 2, 1937

        Closing: Apr 2, 1937

        Performance Count: 1

163. Thurgood [Original] Play, Drama, Solo

        Opening: Apr 30, 2008

        Closing: Aug 17, 2008

        Performance Count: 126

166. Via Dolorosa [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: Mar 18, 1999

        Closing: Jun 13, 1999

        Performance Count: 99

169. Will Rogers’ USA [Original] Play, Solo

        Opening: May 6, 1974

        Closing: May 11, 1974

        Performance Count: 8

172. You’re Welcome America [Original]                 Special, Comedy, Solo

        Opening: Feb 5, 2009

        Closing: Mar 15, 2009

        Performance Count: 46

Top 30 Solo Shows by Number of Performances

Comedy in Music [Victor Borge] Special, Solo, Comedy, Concert

Opening: Oct 2, 1953

Closing: Jan 21, 1956

Performance Count: 849

 

The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe [Lily Tomlin] Play, Solo

Opening: Sep 26, 1985

Closing: Oct 5, 1986

Performance Count: 391

 

 

Jackie Mason: Politically Incorrect

Special, Solo, Stand-up, Comedy

Opening: Apr 5, 1994

Closing: Jun 4, 1995

Performance Count: 348

 

 

Tru [Robert Morse] Play, Solo

Opening: Dec 14, 1989

Closing: Sep 1, 1990

Performance Count: 297

 

Jackie Mason: Brand New

Special, Solo, Stand-up, Comedy

Opening: Oct 17, 1990

Closing: Jun 30, 1991

Performance Count: 216

 

Comedy in Music Opus 2 [Victor Borge] Special, Solo, Comedy, Concert

Opening: Nov 9, 1964

Closing: Apr 24, 1965

Performance Count: 192

 

Jackie Mason: Freshly Squeezed

Play, Solo

Opening: Mar 23, 2005

Closing: Sep 4, 2005

Performance Count: 172

 

Freak [John Leguizamo] Play, Solo, Comedy

Opening: Feb 12, 1998

Closing: Jul 4, 1998

Performance Count: 144

 

Thurgood [Laurence Fishbourne] Play, Drama, Solo

Opening: Apr 30, 2008

Closing: Aug 17, 2008

Performance Count: 126

 

A Bronx Tale [Chazz Palminteri] Special, Solo

Opening: Oct 25, 2007

Closing: Feb 24, 2008

Performance Count: 111

Rob Becker’s Defending the Caveman

Special, Solo, Comedy

Opening: Mar 26, 1995

Closing: Jun 22, 1997

Performance Count: 674

Jackie Mason’s The World According to Me!

Special, Solo, Stand-up, Comedy

Opening: Dec 22, 1986

Closing: Jan 2, 1988

Performance Count: 367

Shirley Valentine [Pauline Collins] Play, Solo

Opening: Feb 16, 1989

Closing: Nov 25, 1989

Performance Count: 324

Shakespeare for My Father [Lynn Redgrave] Play, Solo

Opening: Apr 26, 1993

Closing: Jan 2, 1994

Performance Count: 266

Bridge & Tunnel [Sarah Jones] Play, Solo

Opening: Jan 26, 2006

Closing: Aug 6, 2006

Performance Count: 213

 

Much Ado About Everything [Jackie Mason] Special, Solo, Comedy

Opening: Dec 30, 1999

Closing: Jul 30, 2000

Performance Count: 186

 

700 Sundays [Billy Crystal] Play, Solo

Opening: Dec 5, 2004

Closing: Jun 12, 2005

Performance Count: 163

Colin Quinn: Long Story Short

Play, Comedy, Solo

Opening: Nov 9, 2010

Closing: Mar 5, 2011

Performance Count: 135

 

Wishful Drinking [Carrie Fisher] Play, Solo

Opening: Oct 4, 2009

Closing: Jan 17, 2010

Performance Count: 118

 

Via Dolorosa [David Hare] Play, Solo

Opening: Mar 18, 1999

Closing: Jun 13, 1999

Performance Count: 99

Golda’s Balcony [Tovah Feldshuh] Play, Solo, Drama

Opening: Oct 15, 2003

Closing: Jan 2, 2005

Performance Count: 493

 

Say Goodnight Gracie [Frank Gorshin] Play, Solo, Comedy

Opening: Oct 10, 2002

Closing: Aug 24, 2003

Performance Count: 364

 

 

Dame Edna: The Royal Tour

Special, Solo, Comedy

Opening: Oct 17, 1999

Closing: Jul 2, 2000

Performance Count: 297

 

 

Love Thy Neighbor [Jackie Mason] Special, Solo, Stand-up, Comedy

Opening: Mar 24, 1996

Closing: Jan 5, 1997

Performance Count: 234

Jackie Mason’s The World According to Me!

Special, Solo, Stand-up, Comedy

Opening: May 2, 1988

Closing: Dec 31, 1988

Performance Count: 206

The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe [Lily Tomlin] Play, Solo

Opening: Nov 16, 2000

Closing: May 20, 2001

Performance Count: 184

 

Whoopi Goldberg

Play, Solo

Opening: Oct 24, 1984

Closing: Mar 10, 1985

Performance Count: 156

 

Ann [Holland Taylor] Play, Solo

Opening: Mar 7, 2013

Closing: Jun 30, 2013

Performance Count: 132

 

The Belle of Amherst [Julie Harris] Play, Solo

Opening: Apr 28, 1976

Closing: Aug 8, 1976

Performance Count: 116

 

Miss Margarida’s Way [Estelle Parsons] Play, Solo

Opening: Sep 27, 1977

Closing: Jan 1, 1978

Performance Count: 98

Benefits

1. Jerry Seinfeld: Live On Broadway [Original]  Play, Solo, Benefit

Opening: Aug 5, 1998

Closing: Aug 9, 1998

Performance Count: 10

2. Mandy Patinkin in Concert [Original] Special, Benefit, Concert, Solo

Opening: Mar 1, 1997

Closing: Mar 23, 1997

Performance Count: 16

3. Mandy Patinkin on Broadway [Original] Special, Benefit, Concert, Solo

Opening: May 19, 2008

Closing: May 19, 2008

Performance Count: 1

is dedicated to producing and developing extraordinary solo theater.

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ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES

1650 Broadway, Suite 1118 | New York, NY 10019

Tel (212) 398-7180 | Fax (212) 398-7146

info@afo.nyc

 

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