Well, there are two sides to every story, and here’s the other one in Megan Mullally’s exit from Lips Together, Teeth Apart. Told you yesterday she quit the show, with sources citing clashes with director Joe Mantello. Several sources told me today that while Mullally might have felt tension in rehearsals, her abrupt exit shocked everyone. The story from insiders on the production is that Mullally left after trying unsuccessfully to replace one of the actors. I’ve heard that actor was Patton Oswalt, the stand-up comedian who starred in the indie film Big Fan, and the TV series The King of Queens, but who is making his Broadway debut in the revival of Terrence McNally’s play.
The Roundabout and McNally didn’t comment on that, but issued statements that rallied around the director and addressed the hardship that Mullally’s departure has created for the production.
“Joe and I were thrilled to be in the rehearsal room with these four actors,” McNally said in a statement. “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. Megan Mullally’s decision to withdraw at this late date is devastating.”
This one from the Roundabout Theatre’s artistic director Todd Haimes: “We were surprised and disappointed that Megan Mullally had to withdraw from the production immediately 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. We have wanted Joe Mantello to direct this comedy since he staged a reading for us 3 years ago. We expect to announce replacement casting shortly. The first preview performance will be delayed. The opening night date remains April 29.”
An insider who observed the rehearsals acknowledged there were moments of tension but denied Mantello was abusive. Some of the tension had to do with Oswalt’s newness to the stage. It took him more time to warm to the the pace than Mullally, Lili Taylor and David Wilson Barnes, each of whom have been at it longer.