The morning of Feb. 17 the production issued the following statement: "The producers of Broadway’s Finding Neverland regretfully announce that the beloved stage and screen actress Sandy Duncan, who recently joined the magical production in the role of Madame Du Maurier, must take an immediate, yet temporary leave of absence from the show due to family obligations. The entire company looks forward to warmly welcoming Ms. Duncan back to Neverland as soon as she’s able to return."
Understudy Kristy Cates will play the role until an official replacement is named.
Duncan, who was Tony-nominated for her performance in the title role of the 1979 revival of Peter Pan, returned to J.M. Barrie's fantasy story when she joined the cast of Finding Neverland Feb. 12 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. She had originally been scheduled to start performances Feb. 9.
The New York Post reported that she is leaving due to “personal reasons," and could return, but quoted unnamed sources saying she "didn’t work in the role as Madame du Maurier."
The three-time Tony Award nominee took on the role of Madame du Maurier, succeeding original cast member Carolee Carmello, who departed the show to star in the new Broadway musical Tuck Everlasting. Finding Neverland was a homecoming for Duncan, who soared throughout that same theatre in Peter Pan 37 years ago. She was scheduled to remain with Finding Neverland through March 27.
"It's surreal being back at the Lunt-Fontanne where I opened Peter Pan in 1979," Duncan said before stepping into the role. "There's a real sense of nostalgia for me in joining this company. So many moments and bits of dialogue in Finding Neverland really bring me back to those days in Peter Pan and to all the folks with whom I shared that experience. I'm looking forward to being a part of the story from a different angle and sharing the stage with yet another group of talented actors. I feel extremely fortunate. Also, Kelsey, I'd like my old dressing room back please!"
Duncan has also appeared on Broadway in Chicago, Canterbury Tales (1969 Tony nomination), The Boyfriend (1971 Tony nomination), Peter Pan (1980 Tony nomination) and My One and Only. She has appeared Off-Broadway in Ceremony of Innocence and Your Own Thing and in Los Angeles in Vanities.
On television she has appeared in "Funny Face" and "Roots," among other shows. Her film credits include "The Million Dollar Duck," "Star Spangled Girl" and voices for many animated films.
Tony Yazbeck, most recently seen in the Japan world premiere of Prince of Broadway, stars as J.M. Barrie in a cast that also includes Laura Michelle Kelly (Mary Poppins), Kelsey Grammer ("Cheers"), Teal Wicks, Jack McCarthy, Alex Dreier, Jackson Demott Hill, Christian Michael Camporin, Christopher Paul Richards and Eli Tokash.
Directed by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus, the musical began March 15, 2015, and officially opened April 15 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.
Based on the Academy Award-winning Miramax motion picture by David Magee, and the play The Man Who Was Peter Pan by Allan Knee, Finding Neverland "follows the relationship between playwright J. M. Barrie and the family that inspired 'Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up' – one of the most beloved stories of all time," according to press notes.
The musical has a book by Olivier Award nominee James Graham, music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Grammy Award winner Eliot Kennedy, and choreography by Emmy Award winner Mia Michaels ("So You Think You Can Dance").
The production features scenic design by Tony Award winner Scott Pask (Pippin, Book of Mormon), lighting design by Tony Award winner Kenneth Posner (The Coast of Utopia, Pippin), costume design by Suttirat Larlarb (Of Mice and Men) and sound design by Tony Award nominee Jonathan Deans (Pippin, La Cage aux Folles).
For tickets, call Ticketmaster at (877) 250-2929. The Lunt-Fontanne box office is located at 205 West 46th Street.