Mary Tyler Moore withdraws from role in Neil Simon play

— Mary Tyler Moore has withdrawn from "Rose's Dilemma," the new Neil Simon play, scheduled to open off-Broadway in two weeks.

Moore missed both the matinee and evening performances Wednesday, and her understudy, Patricia Hodges, went on, Jim Byk, a spokesman for Manhattan Theatre Club, said Thursday. Hodges will continue in the role.

Mara Buxbaum, a spokeswoman for Moore, did not return phone calls, and Simon declined to comment on the situation, spokesman Bill Evans, said.

"We are disappointed that the Neil Simon-Mary Tyler Moore collaboration did not work out," Lynne Meadow and Barry Grove, who run MTC, said in a joint statement. "We respect enormously the talents of both Ms. Moore and Mr. Simon."

In "Rose's Dilemma," Moore played Rose Steiner, a writer struggling to pay the bills and haunted by the memory of her dead lover, a writer named Walsh McLaren (John Cullum). With Walsh's help, Rose drums up one last idea, finding a disheveled ghostwriter (David Aaron Baker) to help finish Walsh's last novel -- with the help of Walsh, who is seen only by Rose.

Critics were to have started seeing "Rose's Dilemma" Friday with an opening scheduled for Dec. 18. It was uncertain whether the play would open on schedule at MTC's Stage I.

Another version of "Rose's Dilemma," entitled "Rose and Walsh," was done earlier this year at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. That production starred Jane Alexander and Len Cariou.

It has not been a good fall for Manhattan Theatre Club. Its new Broadway home, the newly restored Biltmore Theatre, opened in November with a troubled production of Richard Greenberg's new play, "The Violet Hour."

Jasmine Guy withdrew from the cast less than two weeks before the play's Nov. 6 opening, leaving the production during intermission of a preview performance. She was replaced by her understudy, Robin Miles.

Another actress, Laura Benanti, also left the show -- departing during September rehearsals because of what MTC called "artistic differences." Dagmara Dominczyk took over her role.

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