Megan Mullally has shocked the theater world by quitting "Lips Together, Teeth Apart" two weeks before previews were scheduled to begin April 9.
The actress--best known as loose-cannon Karen Walker in "Will & Grace" and the wacky seductress in "Young Frankestein" on Broadway--was two weeks into rehearsals for the Roundabout Theatre's revival of Terrence McNally's 1991 comedy about two straight married couples in the gay section of Fire Island.
No reason was given for the departure, which the playwright describes as "devastating," though there were rumors on the Internet of tension between her and director Joe Mantello. In a statement released Wednesday night, Todd Haimes, artistic director of the Roundabout, expressed surprise and disappointment, adding that Mullally is in "breach of her contract. With the loss of Megan in a four-person ensemble, work has been delayed after only two weeks of rehearsal."
Both Haimes and McNally are supporting Mantello. "Joe and I were thrilled to be in the rehearsal room with these four actors," said the playwright about Mantello, who also directed McNally's "Love! Valour! Compassion!"
"Joe is my longest and one of my most trusted collaborators. We have waited and worked for almost three years to make this production happen. (Her) decision to withdraw at this late date is devastating."
Mullally was to play a rich wife from country-club Connecticut, a part created by Christine Baranski in the original. No replacement has been named in the ensemble, which includes Lili Taylor, Patton Oswalt and David Wilson Barnes. Opening night remains April 29, the last possible date for Tony Award eligibility, though the first preview has been delayed.