Photo: Danny Perez for the Times Square Alliance.
The Broadway community honors the memory of Elizabeth Ireland McCann, better known as Liz, the Tony Award®-winning producer and general manager who was among the first successful female leaders in Broadway. Ms. McCann passed away on September 9, 2021, at the age of 90. On March 29, 2022, what would have been her 91st birthday, the Committee of Theatre Owners will dim the lights of Broadway theatres in New York for one minute at exactly 6:30pm, in her honor.
In a career that spanned six decades and included more than 60 Broadway productions, Ms. McCann was nominated for 20 Tony Awards, winning nine for the productions of: Hair (2009 Revival); The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (2002); Copenhagen (2000); A View from the Bridge (1997 Revival); The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1981); Amadeus (1988); Morning’s at Seven (1980 Revival); The Elephant Man (1979); and Dracula (1977 Revival).
Born in New York, less than a mile from Broadway, she credited her parents’ flair for storytelling with spawning her own love of theatre. Ms. McCann graduated from Manhattanville College in 1952, where she also performed in plays. Two years later she would earn a master’s degree in English literature from Columbia University, intending to become a drama teacher. For the next 10 years, she would work in theatre with her start as a production assistant and manager with Proscenium Productions at the Cherry Lane Theatre. In hopes of advancing her career, she earned a law degree at Fordham University in 1966. Her Broadway break came in 1967 when she was hired as Managing Director by influential theatre owner James Nederlander. Soon after, she would meet Nelle Nugent and together they formed the general management and production company, McCann & Nugent, which resulted in a legendary string of Broadway hits from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s.
In 1994, she produced Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Three Tall Women, off-Broadway and the enormous success that ensued created future collaborations with the playwright. It was known that Ms. McCann did not like to refer to Broadway as an industry, reminding colleagues that they were all part of a community. Having such a viewpoint allowed for her to forge great working relationships and that was valuable when she served as Managing Producer of the Tony Awards during the 2000s. She would work on six Tony Awards telecasts, three of which won Emmys. Ms. McCann joined The Broadway League in January of 1988 and served on the Board of Governors from 1994-2003 and again from 2006-2011.
“It is a touching tribute to honor the memory of Liz McCann on her actual birthday as the Broadway community joins together to remember her incredible contributions to theatre,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League. “Liz loved every aspect of theatre and formed genuine connections that would last a lifetime. It is fitting that as Women’s History Month comes to a close, we celebrate Liz and her career on Broadway. May her work continue to inspire generations of women who dream of being a part of this great community.”
Ms. McCann’s Broadway biography can be found on the Internet Broadway Database.