"Lone Star Love," a musical that scratched its Broadway plans after receiving a mixed reception here, spent its final week at the 5th Avenue...

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“Lone Star Love,” a musical that scratched its Broadway plans after receiving a mixed reception here, spent its final week at the 5th Avenue Theatre without its star, Randy Quaid.

Beginning last Tuesday night, a day after the show’s Broadway run was canceled, 5th Avenue producing artistic director David Armstrong made a preshow speech to patrons explaining Quaid was ill and his understudy, Tony Lawson, would play Falstaff in the musical-comedy version of Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor.”

Quaid “had a doctor call us every day, to verify that he was sick,” says Armstrong. “We offered everyone in the audience a chance to contact the box office and exchange their tickets for seats to another of our shows. Very few people did that.”

Armstrong acknowledges he also took the unusual, somewhat surprising step of making some remarks critical of Quaid at last Sunday’s matinee of “Lone Star Love,” the show’s final performance here.

“I wanted to acknowledge the [rest of the] company, who were a class act,” reports Armstrong. “They worked very hard under very, very difficult conditions … I explained that in most cases, pre-Broadway runs help the show’s creators assess whether the book, music or lyrics need work.”

In this case, Armstrong says he told the audience, “what we really needed was a different star — not due to a lack of talent, but someone with a different personality and sense of professionalism.”

Talk of backstage conflict was rampant during the three-week Seattle run of “Lone Star Love.” The New York Post reported Quaid and his manager wife, Evi, battled producers over many aspects of the musical, which the Quaids wanted to be darker and raunchier.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Evi Quaid said her husband was very upset he had to miss the last week of “Lone Star Love” performances, and did so only because he was very sick with a respiratory ailment. She also dismissed reports of backstage dissension between the Quaids and members of the show’s creative team, and said a Broadway run of the musical may still happen.

“We have some interested investors, and we’re trying to figure out if we can raise the rest of the money to proceed, so that all of Randy’s hard work isn’t thrown away,” she said.

But according to Armstrong, the original producers who mounted “Lone Star Love” at the 5th Avenue (including Edmund and Eleanor Burke, Roger Berlind and Robert Boyett Theatricals, among others), unanimously decided to close the show in Seattle and abort the Broadway run scheduled to begin at the Belasco Theatre on Dec. 3.

“I can’t see any way it would go to Broadway,” said Armstrong, “because the vision of the show the Quaids have is at odds with that of the rest of the team.”

Misha Berson: mberson@seattletimes.com