The actress cites "personal reasons" for her leaving the project, but also states "I think it is a fantastic play and I wish everyone associated with it all the best."
The Female of the Species is about a feminist author whose world is turned upside down by the arrival of a female fan. It will be directed by Michael Mayer, who won a Tony Award earlier this year for Spring Awakening. Murray-Smith is best known as the author of Honour.
Bening's stage credits include the Broadway production of Coastal Disturbances, for which she received a Tony nomination, and the Geffen production of Hedda Gabler. She received Oscar nominations for her roles in American Beauty, Being Julia, and The Grifters, and she co-starred in Bugsy alongside her future husband, Warren Beatty.