Noises Off: Play time at Tonys

Smith, McCann determined to feature nominee snippets

NEW YORK — The Tony telecast has always been a prime showcase for excerpts from the year’s nominated musicals, but in recent years attempts to showcase plays have come in for heavy criticism.

Nevertheless, exec producer Gary Smith and managing producer Elizabeth McCann are determined to find a way to give plays significant stage time this year.

“We will go back to 1987, which was the most successful presentation,” says McCann, referring to the year when “Broadway Bound,” “Fences,” “Coastal Disturbances” and “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” (which she helped produce) vied for best play.

“We will be looking for monologues and duologues that work out of context for this year’s nominees,” says Smith.

As examples, he mentions speeches delivered by Viola Davis in “King Hedley II” and Linda Lavin in “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife.”

“Gary’s present plan is to present all eight plays (including revivals) live,” says McCann. “That’s quite a feat.”

Where to find the time?

“All the presenters this year will be individuals,” says Smith, “so there’s no chit-chat. That saves time.”