The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

Elizabeth Ireland McCann

Elizabeth Ireland McCann

Born on Sunday, March 29, 1931

Interviewed on: Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Location: Her Office
Interviewed by: Martha Steketee
Interview #56
"Some people just don’t have any judgment about commercial material. They have judgment about classy material. The moment they decide they’re going to do something really commercial…it ain’t gonna work!"
Elizabeth Ireland McCann Highlights
Video Length: 5 Minutes, 18 Seconds
Elizabeth Ireland McCann Interview
Video Length: 1 Hour, 12 Minutes

Elizabeth Ireland McCann is a producer of Broadway and Off-Broadway plays such as PAINTING CHURCHES (1983), THE LADY AND THE CLARINET (1983), and COBB (2000). McCann had a special relationship with Edward Albee as a producer of many of his hit plays, including: the Pulitzer Prize-winning THREE TALL WOMEN (1994), THE PLAY ABOUT THE BABY (2000), the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (2002), and BECKETT/ALBEE (2003).

McCann grew up on West 31st Street, less than a mile from the Great White Way. Her father was a subway motorman and her mother was a housewife. She was in her teens before she ever saw live theatre. McCann acted in plays at Manhattanville College and eventually began working with Proscenium Productions. She worked as a production secretary for bus and truck tours, and then left it all behind to earn a law degree at Fordham University. In 1967, she was hired by Broadway's theater-owning Nederlanders as Managing Director. There she met Nelle Nugent; in 1976, they formed a co-producing partnership that for a decade was the stuff of Broadway legend. McCann has co-produced an astounding array of hits on Broadway, including: The Elephant Man (1979), Morning’s at Seven (1980), Amadeus (1980), The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1981), and Copenhagen (2000), all of which were Tony Award winners. Since 2001, she has also been Managing Producer of the Tony Awards.

Mentioned in Interview

Stockard Channing, Gordon Davidson, Michael Cristofer, Edward Albee, Maurice Evans, Emmett Rogers, George Steinbrenner, James M. Nederlander, Nelle Nugent, Tina Howe, Marian Seldes, Daryl Roth, Shirley Herz, John Guare, Edward Gorey, The Lambs Theatre Company, The Cherry Lane Theatre, Lucille Lortel Theatre, The Palace Theatre, City Corp., Second Stage Theatre, Proscenium Productions, THE PLAY ABOUT THE BABY, DRACULA, THREE TALL WOMEN, PAINTING CHURCHES, THE ELEPHANT MAN, ALBEE/BECKETT, MORNING’S AT SEVEN, THE LADY AND THE CLARINET