Why I Loved Jan Maxwell

I loved Jan Maxwell immediately. (Obituary here.) We were both from the Dakotas, and we had the same pop-culture references. Her father was a liberal federal judge, and her mother was an attorney, and Jan and I spent long conversations discussing issues of social justice. She had firm views; also a strong sense of humor. New York-based, she was one of the fiercest actors in town. In the work of Howard Barker, her favorite playwright, Jan could tear through dense text with seeming ease — a skill rare even among accomplished performers. How I wish her performance in Anthony Giardina’s “The City of Conversation,” on which I worked at Lincoln Center Theater, could have moved to Broadway, so Jan could have, at last, won the Tony Award she so richly deserved. Along with Audra McDonald, she is the only woman to have been Tony-nominated in all four acting categories. “Gone too soon” is a cliche, but in this case the cliche fits. Love you Jan.

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