The New York Times reports that Friedman will take a six-week leave of absence in order to undergo radiation and hormone therapy for breast cancer. Friedman, the Olivier Award-winning actress who is making her Broadway debut in Woman in White, previously underwent surgery for stage 1 breast cancer on Nov. 3 and required a few days to recover before returning to the show Nov. 10. She has missed a few subsequent performances since that time due to ongoing treatment.
Kuhn will begin performances as Marian Feb. 14 and is expected to stay with the new musical through March 26. Kuhn told the Times, “My excitement on taking on such a big part is tempered by the circumstances.” Kuhn also said that she will be glad to give the role back to Friedman when she finishes her medical treatment.
Friedman added, “It is a show that's running, and I'm the lead of it and I should be there. . . And I think six weeks is long enough psychologically that I'll be dying to get back to work." Friedman is expected to return to the cast March 28.
In a statement, producer Bob Boyett said, "While Maria was eager to remain in the show and perform as much as her health allowed, we prevailed upon her to take this time to complete her treatment and return at the end of March. We are thrilled that Judy Kuhn, an extraordinary Broadway actress, was available to play this role."
A three-time Tony Award nominee for her work in She Loves Me, Les Misérables and Chess, Judy Kuhn also starred in the concert mounting of Alan Menken and Tim Rice's King David and the Los Angeles premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard. Kuhn received an Obie Award for her work in the Off-Broadway Laura Nyro tribute, Eli's Comin', and played Fosca in the Kennedy Center mounting of Stephen Sondheim's Passion. The Woman in White features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by David Zippel and a book by Charlotte Jones. The remainder of the creative team comprises Trevor Nunn (direction), William Dudley (set and costume design), Paul Pyant (lighting design), Mick Potter (sound design), Wayne McGregor (dance and movement) and Simon Lee (musical supervisor).
According to production notes, The Woman in White concerns "a dashing young man, employed as the art tutor to two devoted sisters, [who] is stranded at a remote railway cutting. Out of the darkness looms a woman, a mysterious figure dressed in white, desperate to share a chilling secret. He and the sisters soon find themselves trapped in a web of betrayal and greed, the victims of a seemingly flawless crime. Together they will need all their resourcefulness and courage to outwit a hugely charismatic and ingenious villain. As the compelling plot twists and turns, low villainy vies with high romance in a world where nothing is as it first appears and where it is impossible to know who to trust."
For more information about The Woman in White visit www.womaninwhitethemusical.com. For ticket information, go to www.ticketmaster.com.