In a statement, Bening said, "I am unfortunately withdrawing from Female of the Species for personal reasons. I think it is a fantastic play and I wish everyone associated with it all the best."
Geffen Playhouse producing director Gil Cates added, "As Annette's longtime friend and colleague, we understand that this decision is a personal one, and we respect that. Annette has been a dynamic presence on our stage in the past, and we have no doubt we'll welcome her back in the future.
"Live theatre always means surprises. We wanted to communicate Annette's situation with our subscribers and supporters as soon as possible. We're exploring a range of options. Stand by for more information – we'll share it as soon as we have it."
It was previously announced that Joanna Murray-Smith's The Female of the Species will begin previews at a Broadway theatre to be announced April 11, 2008, and officially open April 28. Recent Spring Awakening Tony winner Michael Mayer will direct the six-character play, which is being produced by David Richenthal and Mary Beth O'Connor.
A spokesperson for the Geffen told Playbill.com that the producers still plan to bring the production to Broadway; they are currently in the process of re-casting Bening's role. The play, according to press notes, concerns "Margot Mason, a feminist literary giant suffering an extreme case of writer's block as deadline after deadline comes and goes on her next book. When a young fan arrives unexpectedly at her country home, Margot's world slowly and comically begins to unravel as family and friends show up and debate the virtues of her best-sellers, her inconsistent world view, and her decidedly un-motherly touch."
On Broadway Annette Bening starred in Coastal Disturbances, earning a Theatre World Award and a Tony nomination for her performance. She was Oscar-nominated for her roles in "Being Julia," "American Beauty" and "The Grifters."
For more information about the Geffen Playhouse, visit www.geffenplayhouse.com.