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Elizabeth McCann, Prolific Broadway Producer, Dies at 90

McCann won nine Tony Awards for productions throughout her career.

Elizabeth Ireland McCann
(© David Gordon)

Prolific producer Elizabeth Ireland McCann, a nine-time Tony Award winner for bringing iconoclastic works like Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? to Broadway, has died after a bout with cancer at the age of 90.

Born March 29, 1931 in Manhattan, McCann was the daughter of Scottish immigrants and began her career in the theater as a production assistant and manager with Proscenium Productions at the Cherry Lane Theatre in the 1950s. A graduate of Manhattanville College, she completed a law degree at Fordham and later earned a master's degree in English Literature, intending to become a drama teacher. But Broadway came calling in 1967 when she was hired by James Nederlander Sr. to be his managing director, and she quickly became one fo the first women to command a place at a table populated largely by male producers.

Partnering with Nelle Nugent, the pair formed the management and production company McCann and Nugent, earning Tonys for an unparalleled string of productions: Dracula and The Elephant Man in 1979, Morning's at Seven and Amadeus in 1980, and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby in 1981. They managed The Gin Game with Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, produced Night and Day with Maggie Smth, Cyrano de Bergerac with Derek Jacoby, and Leader of the Pack, among other shows. In partnership with others, McCann earned Tonys for The Goat, Copenhagen, A View From the Bridge, and Hair.

The Goat was one of several plays she presented as part of her prolific artistic relationship with Albee, a list that also includes the original production of Three Tall Women, the 2005 revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Play About the Baby, and Beckett/Albee. Having partnered with Daryl Roth on the Albee productions, McCann once again joined her for the Broadway premiere of Paula Vogel's Indecent. Her final Broadway credit was the brief run of Martin McDonagh's Hangmen, which closed during the pandemic, having never opened.

McCann had long-standing relationships with theater owners across the country and was a fixture at Broadway opening nights. A great lover of cats, her most recent favorite, according to press rep Sam Rudy, was named Miss Sophie.

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