Ford’s Theatre has announced that it has canceled four preview performances of “Necessary Sacrifices” while the downtown Washington theater company searches for an actor to replace David Emerson Toney in the role of Frederick Douglass.

Toney, Ford’s announced Wednesday, has withdrawn from the play’s cast because of a “private health matter.” The cancellation of four previews scheduled between Friday and Tuesday, Ford’s said, would allow Toney’s replacement sufficient re­hearsal time. “Necessary Sacrifices,” by playwright Richard Hellesen, explores the two documented encounters between Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist Douglass.

Ticket holders for the canceled performances have until Jan. 31 to exchange their tickets for another performance, obtain a refund or donate the value of the tickets to the Ford’s Theatre Society. Ticketmaster will contact patrons who purchased their seats on Ford’s Web site or through the ticket agency. Those ticket holders, according to Ford’s, will receive a code to buy preview-priced tickets for a regular performance.

The show is scheduled to open Jan. 26 and run through Feb. 12.

Nancy McKeon