Nick Vanoff, who coproduced the Kennedy Center Honors show last night, says that playwrights are the most difficult of artists to showcase for the program (which has also become the social event of the season for those who are into that kind of $1,000-a-ticket thing). Arthur Miller, who is among the five artists honored this year on the nationally televised, Emmy Award- winning show, is the second playwright to be selected.
"It's hard to excerpt scenes from plays," Vanoff said, taking a break from the week of nonstop preparations that preceded the event. "So I've decided on monologues and excerpts from Miller's thoughts and views." One of his discoveries, Ying Ruo Cheng, who played Willy Loman in the Chinese production of "Death of a Salesman" that Miller directed (and later wrote a book about), is in this country on an exchange program at the University of Missouri. He joined Karl Malden, George Segal and Miller's sister, actress Joan Copeland, in the tribute.
Vanoff, 55, started his career as a dancer with the Charles Weidman Dance Theater. He also spent a brief period as a Marine at the Quantico Marine Base, where he spent a lot of time directing shows -- including the first amateur production of "Oklahoma," which, he recalls proudly, got better reviews than the touring company that played Washington. The weekly "Squad Base Scandals" may not be on his now lengthy re'sume', but it earned him the role of guest of honor at a general's cocktail party. Vanoff is currently producing the film version of Nicholas Gage's book "Eleni."