November 13, 2003 11:00 AM

Broadway did a collective double take earlier this week when it was announced that the producer was pulling the plug on “Bobbi Boland,” a $2 million comedy starring Farrah Fawcett that was not scheduled to open until Nov. 24.

Rarely does a show close in previews, leaving this one for the record books — and for the theater community to buzz about what on earth could have happened.

Shedding some light on the matter, the show’s costume designer, Elizabeth Hope Clancy, tells PEOPLE the closing is “heartbreaking. It’s disappointing. Farrah was getting better every night.”

In shutting the show, producer Joyce Johnson said in a statement, “The play simply does not work in a Broadway house. … It’s as simple as that.”

Fawcett, 56, whose previous New York stage experience included a 1983 well-received run in the off-Broadway play “Extremities,” has yet to speak up on the show’s closing.

A show insider, however, says Fawcett “felt the producers were two-faced. They’re pretending it’s the play.” The actress, says the source, is “really confused (by the closing). No one saw it coming.”

Cast members admit Fawcett was struggling in the beginning and had sinus trouble throughout the preview period. Rehearsals also had to be delayed by several days because the actress had just finished filming a movie. (She reportedly has been filming “The Cookout,” also starring Queen Latifah and Danny Glover.)

Tom Beckett, who played Fawcett’s best friend in the play, defended his costar. “The perception is going to be that Farrah couldn’t carry this show, which is not the case at all,” he said. “We wanted one more week to see if we could fix (the production). The problem was, it took us a long time to get the show running smoothly.”

Of the final performance: “Farrah got a standing ovation Saturday night — and the producer kept saying people hated it.”

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