The reasoning for the musical Rebecca, the multi-million dollar, that seems will never see the light of day is about to make TV ratings. The drama behind the musical Rebecca, which went under scrutiny by the S.E.C. after a fraud scheme came to light involving fictitious investors, will be the subject of a new episode of CNBC’s American Greed. Narrated by Stacy Keach, the episode,
Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza, optioned the show after successful runs in a number of European cities. He first planned to bring it to London but could not raise the money. I know this for a fact, because I was at a meeting of investors for this asking. The London production was cancelled when the prospective theater’s basement mysteriously filled with water. In 2011, Mr. Sprecher announced plans for a Broadway opening in the spring of 2012. Michael Blakemore (City Of Angels) was hired to “assist” the show’s original director, Francesca Zambello. The original $16 million budget was trimmed back to $12 million.
Sprecher had trouble raising the capital needed to begin rehearsals. He hired a “developer” to find investors, but Mark Hotton, proved to be a master embezzler whose shady history Sprecher had somehow failed to detect. Hotton took Sprecher and Forlenza in, claiming, that an investor named Paul Abrams had died suddenly of malaria after an African safari. Abrams didn’t exist. Hotton was sentenced to 34 months in prison. Sprecher remained optimistic spending his investors money on costumes and sets. In the fall of 2012, with $2.25 million in escrow from an angel named Laurence Runsdorf, Sprecher had the money that would allow rehearsals to begin. Then Runsdorf, pulled out receiving an email from “Sarah Finkelstein,” warning him that the Rebecca producers were not to be trusted. “Sarah Finkelstein” was one of several names publicist Mark Thibodeau, whose clients include The Phantom Of The Opera, Sprecher and Forlenza sued. Thibodeau claimed and still claims he was not under contract to them, a New York State Supreme Court justice ruled on May 12, 2015, that Thibodeau was in breach of contract when he sent out those email’s under a false name. His moves abruptly halted production of the musical and added to the legend of one of Broadway’s weirdest and most bizarre cases of production interruptus in modern showbiz history. That case still has not gone to court. There is still a case where not only is Mark Thibodeau is named but also extends to “Defendants John/Jane Does 1–3,” described as “an unknown individual or individuals who induced Thibodeau” to send the three e-mails. Thibodeau swears he acted alone.
Rebecca is based on the 1938 Daphne Du Maurier novel (and 1940 Alfred Hitchcock classic) about the dark secrets and mysteries of Manderley that already had taken as many twists and unlikely turns as any Dickens novel.
Ben Sprecher, sent a blind-copied email regarding the upcoming segment and has declined CNBC’s requests for interviews.
I wonder if the show will get, that the same amount needed to move Rebecca forward in New York was the same amount that Rebecca did not have to make the show play in London? Will they get, that the cast and other investors were told more than one story about Paul Abrams? Will they talk about that the investors, who were promised a show and will possibly may never see their money back or the show? Who has suffered the most in this debacle is Laurence Runsdorf who not only wanted to help save Rebecca but he wanted anonymity. Thanks to Mark Thibodeau, he is sure to be brought into play on August 11th.
American Greed: The Phantom Fraudster of Broadway will air August 11 at 10 PM on CNBC.