Max Woodward, a longtime executive and producer for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, passed away from Alzheimer's disease October 14. He was 76. The news was confirmed by friend and theatre writer Steven Suskin.
Mr. Woodward retired in 2016 from his position as the Vice President of Theater Programming, a role he had held for 14 years, producing the Sondheim Celebration, Tennessee Williams Explored, Mr. Roberts, Carnival!, Mame, August Wilson’s 20th Century, Ragtime, Terrence McNally’s Nights at the Opera, Follies, and The Guardsman. Both Ragtime and Follies later transferred to Broadway.
“Today, we mourn the passing of Max Woodward," reads a statement from The Kennedy Center. "Max began his career at the Center as an usher in 1971, shortly after we first opened our doors, eventually assuming his programmatic leadership role in 2002. Over the course of his 44-year career, he helped shape the identity of theatre at the Center and left his mark through unforgettable events including our 2002 Sondheim Celebration and 2011 Follies revival. His warmth, kindness, and humor touched the hearts of all who met him, and his intimate knowledge of his art form could impress even the most seasoned of theatregoers. We carry on our work in celebration of his legacy.”
Woodward was born June 20, 1946, in Masontown, Pennsylvania. His life in the theatre began after being drafted into the U.S. Army and serving in Frankfurt, Germany, from 1965 to 1967, ultimately joining The Kennedy Center upon its opening in 1971. He would go on to work as an auditor, house manager, general manager, director of operations, and director of programming, ultimately becoming Vice President of Theater Programming. He also served as director of the Fund for American Plays, a Kennedy Center initiative that provided enhancement funds towards the production of such plays as The Heidi Chronicles, The Kentucky Cycle, and Angels in America.
Woodward is survived by brother, Donald; cousin, Donna Matoney; partner, Bill Wooby; and close friends Catherine Hill, Tiki Davies, Paul Newman, Kathy Kruse, and Ann Solovia.