Rebecca Producers Bang Drum About Enemies, But Are Confident in New Angels for Broadway
By Kenneth Jones
The producers of Rebecca are continuing to push their case that the show's former press rep scuttled the Broadway production last fall by scaring off an "angel investor." In a recent development, it also looks like new investors are in the wings to usher the pop musical to Broadway.
On Feb. 26, lawyers for press agent Marc Thibodeau filed a 15-page motion to have the charges against him dismissed. On March 11, lawyers for lead producers Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza filed a 27-page memorandum opposing Thibodeau's motion to dismiss, saying that Thibodeau owed the production a "fiduciary duty" when he was the press rep.
There seems to be light in Rebecca's shadowy life, however. Sprecher said in a March 15 statement to Playbill.com: "After a major backers presentation, hosted by our new partner Mr. Phillip and Barbara Sellinger in their home on Monday, March 11, 2013, we are optimistic and excited about our progress on raising the balance of the financing necessary to launch the Broadway production in late 2013. Nothing about this lawsuit has anything to do with the actual show, which is continuing to play to sold out houses in Seoul South Korea, and St. Gallen, Switzerland having just closed in Stuttgart, Germany and opening later this year in Sweden with new productions planned for Moscow, St. Petersburg and Buenos Aires. The show has been a success in every country and language that it has opened and we are confident that it can repeat its success on Broadway."
As previously reported, a January complaint filed by Rebecca Partnership Limited Partnership and Sprecher/Forlenza Productions, Inc., (Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza) in Supreme Court in Manhattan alleged that Thibodeau sent "disturbing and malicious emails" that pointed the anonymous Angel to published reports of fraud involving some of the investors behind the show, and characterized the project as a bad investment. (One of the earlier investors, "Paul Abrams," turned out to be entirely fictional, and the man who created him, Mark Hotton, was arrested last fall on charges of defrauding the producers by fabricating the prospect of a commitment of $4.5 million.)
The Angel, at first, was not scared off by Thibodeau's concerns, but, according to the complaint, soon pulled out because his/her identity had been compromised — a major stipulation of the investor was anonymity. The show was about to begin rehearsals; it shut down with the loss of the Angel. Read the 26-page court complaint here.
Through his lawyers, Thibodeau, the respected Broadway press agent whose clients include The Phantom of the Opera, previously admitted to being an "innocent whistleblower," and that "after one conversation with a Manhattan prosecutor we were told the obvious — that no crime occurred."
Read the January story about the producers being granted an extension of the rights to stage the show by VBW, under the direction of Thomas Drozda, which licenses all international productions of the musical based on the gothic mystery romance by Daphne Du Maurier.
The producers' complaint seeks to hold "the defendants" including Hotton, his wife Sherri Hotton, Thibodeau and as many as three other unknown individuals "accountable for their willful and malicious conduct in trying to destroy a promising Broadway show"…and "are responsible for…at least hundreds of millions of dollars in lost profit damages" if the show cannot be saved.
The defendants are being sued for $100 million, a number based on producers' speculation that Rebecca's box-office potential would be equal to the greatest theatrical blockbusters of all time — a rarity.
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