The McCreary County Record

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May 14, 2014

A Date with Tony

Actor with McCreary ties nominated for Broadway’s highest honor

SOMERSET —  Her fellow employees at Toohey Insurance Services on Ogden Street are well aware Sherry Harris may not be at her desk on June 8.

    Most likely the native of Pine Knot and resident of Somerset will be in New York City, watching her son pick up his first Tony Award.

    At age 32, Brian J. Smith is already a veteran of his trade, having appeared in numerous Broadway plays and TV shows since graduating from the prestigious Julliard School Drama Division’s four-year acting program.

    The man his family calls B.J. has appeared most recently in “The Glass Menagerie” and his nomination is for Best Featured Actor.

    He appeared as “The Gentleman Caller” in the Tennessee Williams’ master-piece.

    Reared outside Dallas in Allen, Texas, B.J. showed an interest in theatre very early in life, according to his mom.

    “He was more into the technical side for awhile, then did his first play in ninth grade and things took off from there,” says Sherry, who has two more sons, Cory, 24, and Billy, 19, both of Somerset.

    “Me and him (Brian) would sit and watch the Tony Awards when he was a kid, never in a million years dreaming he might one day be a part of all that,” says the proud mom.

    Among the least surprised people is a reporter for a Dallas newspaper who saw Smith very early in his career and requested an interview.

    “I don’t know why you want to

interview me,” Smith, then 21, asked Elaine Liner, theatre critic for the Dallas Observer.

    “Because you’re going to win a Tony someday, and I want my story to be the first major story in your portfolio,” she replied.

    Smith’s portfolio has grown to

include words of praise received for performances in TV shows like “Defiance,” and as futuristic GI Joe Lt. Matthew Scott in “Stargate Universe.”

    More than a few headlines describe the muscular Smith as a “hottie,” but when the history buff comes to Somerset and hangs out with family at places like Mill Springs Battlefield, he’s still just B.J.

    The 68th Annual Tony Awards will air live from Radio City Music Hall on CBS from 8 until 11 p.m. on June 8.

    [Editor’s Note: Smith is the grandson of the late Louise Lavender and great-grandson of the late Ethel and Lonnie Lavender, all from Pine Knot.]

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Brandi S. Stephens

Brandi S. Stephens

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