In one of the more public casting dramas of a 2003-04 New York season already full of such stories, Moore withdrew due to artistic differences with playwright Neil Simon: He didn't like what she was doing, and she didn't like his criticism.
Hodges played the role Dec. 3, when Moore was "out sick," and then played it again Dec. 4, the day news broke of Moore's departure.
Variety reported that Neil Simon wrote Moore a letter critical of Moore's performance prior to the Wednesday matinee. She did not perform either show Wednesday.
In a statement, Moore's publicist said, "Mary was devastated and completely debilitated personally and professionally. Mary has been working tirelessly for months but feels pushed out of this production."
On behalf of Manhattan Theatre Club, artistic director Lynne Meadow (who is directing the play) and executive producer Barry Grove said, in a statement, "We are disappointed that the Neil Simon/Mary Tyler Moore collaboration did not work out. We respect enormously the talents of both Ms. Moore and Mr. Simon." The play is Simon's 33rd and concerns a Long Island based writer (Hodges), her lover (played by John Cullum) and their two assistants (played by Geneva Carr and David Aaron Baker). The story touches on ideas of mortality and literary legacy. In an earlier Los Angeles staging it was called Rose and Walsh.
Hodges' Broadway credits include Dancing at Lughnasa, Six Degrees of Separation and The Best Man. She appeared in Off-Broadway's Communicating Doors, On the Verge and The Normal Heart. She was part of the national tour of Lincoln Center's Carousel.
MTC's Broadway staging of The Violet Hour also had a rocky start in the casting department earlier this fall: Laura Benanti left the show in rehearsals and Jasmine Guy (playing an altogether different role) dropped out in previews.
Over at Roundabout Theatre Company, Jenna Elfman was announced for Nine but never joined the company because of what was called insufficient rehearsal time for her.
The limited Off-Broadway engagement of Rose's Dilemma ends Feb. 1, 2004, at MTC's City Center Stage 1 location.