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Mullally's departure postpones "Lips Together" opening

Megan Mullally's sudden and mysterious departure from the Broadway revival of "Lips Together, Teeth Apart" has forced the play to be postponed indefinitely. Terrence McNally's 1991 comedy was to begin previews April 9 and open April 29, the last possible date for Tony Award eligibility.

The Emmy-winning actress, best known as loose-cannon Karen Walker in "Will & Grace", was two weeks into rehearsals for the Roundabout Theatre's revival of McNally's comedy about two straight married couples in the gay section of Fire Island.

Todd Haimes, artistic director of the Roundabout, said in a statement Thursday, "We could not find a way to maintain the production schedule under these circumstances."

No reason was given for Mullally's departure, described by the playwright as "devastating." There had been Internet rumors of tension between her and director Joe Mantello.

Buth the playwright and Haimes expressed support for the director in a statement.

"Joe is my longest and one of my most trusted collaborators," said McNally. "We have waited and worked for almost three years to make this production happen."

Other speculation focused Thursday on Mullally's supposed unhappiness with the performance of one of her fellow actors, Patton Oswalt, the comedian who was making his Broadway debut in the play. The play was also to have featured Lili Taylor and David Wilson Barnes, both theater veterans.

Haimes described himself as surprised and disappointed.

"We have wanted Joe Mantello to direct this comedy since he staged a reading for us three years ago." He added that Mullally's withdrawal put her in "breach of her contract." As yet, there is no word on whether legal action will be taken.

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