“Health issues” have forced Paul Newman to withdraw from directing a fall production at the Westport Country Playhouse, the Playhouse announced today.
Paul Newman: “I’m very sorry.” WN file photo
A brief announcement did not specify what kind of issues the 83-year-old Newman is facing, but it followed what friends have said was persistent back trouble in recent months and what some tabloids have reported is a battle with cancer.
“Distinguished actor and director Paul Newman, who was slated to direct the fall production, ‘Of Mice and Men”’ by John Steinbeck, will step down from making his directorial debut at the Playhouse due to health issues,” the announcement said. “Tony Award-nominated director Mark Lamos will take the helm in Newman’s place.”
The announcement quoted Newman as saying: “I’m very sorry I can’t be part of this Westport Country Playhouse production, but I leave ‘Of Mice and Men’ in Mark Lamos’ very capable hands with the full support of my wife, Joanne Woodward, and Anne Keefe as Playhouse artistic directors.”
Newman’s failure to appear in March at a New York charity benefit prompted speculation about his health. At the time, his publicist told reporters that “he’s been having trouble with his back. The doctors told him to stay off his feet.”
Friends at the time said the back problems earlier had prompted an early morning ambulance ride to Norwalk Hospital. (See WestportNow March 13, 2008)