With $8 Million in Place, Rebecca Producers Work to Raise Remaining Capital
By Adam Hetrick
A shadowy, twisting off-stage tale that rivals any mystery written for the stage hasn't deterred embattled Rebecca producer Ben Sprecher from pushing forward with Broadway plans for the musical thriller. He told Playbill.com that he is getting closer to the $15 million capitalization necessary to bring the production to Broadway later this year.
As previously reported, Rebecca found a new angel in recent months, with the addition of Barbara Sellinger, who joined Sprecher and Louise Forlenza on the producing team. A March 11 reading of the musical at Sellinger's home took place with members of the previously announced Broadway cast.
Sprecher told Playbill.com April 9 that he and his team have "identified an additional $2 million" in funding, bringing their current standing to $8 million. Sprecher expects to produce the show for $15 million; however, investors have authorized him to capitalize the lavish production for up to $16 million. All funding must be raised by the end of June in order for Rebecca to officially open on Broadway by December.
The team is currently working to raise the balance and Sprecher is confident the production will open. The goal is to begin rehearsals in October.
VBW, under the direction of Thomas Drozda, licensed the stage property to Sprecher, who must open the musical on Broadway by Dec. 31, or face refunding all of the monies raised to his investors. Sprecher stated that an immediate use clause, which allows producers to begin spending investors' money prior to complete capitalization, was in place, however the producing team has opted to escrow all funds.
"All money will be escrowed until it's fully financed," Sprecher said of the current fundraising. "We feel that is the only proper way to give our new investors comfort." Rebecca was initially capitalized at $12 million, but expenses incurred due to delays have increased the budget to $15 million.
Rebecca found itself in peril last fall when Sprecher, who believed capitalization was complete, pulled the trigger on the start of set and costume construction. It was later discovered that Long Island businessman Mark C. Hotton had fabricated the name of an investor who pledged the final $4.5 million for the production.
Sprecher and the producing team continue with their case that the show's former press rep, Marc Thibodeaux, scuttled the Broadway production last fall by scaring off a potential, multi-million dollar investor — a claim Thibodeaux denies. Read the Playbill.com coverage here.
Sprecher confirms that the creative team and previously announced principal cast are still attached to the production. No further readings of Rebecca are planned. The set and costumes for the musical, which have already been constructed, remain in storage.
Tony Award winner Michael Blakemore (Kiss, Me Kate; City of Angels) and Francesca Zambello (The Little Mermaid) will co-direct the Broadway staging that casts Jill Paice (Curtains) as the novel's naïve protagonist, "I" and Ryan Silverman (Passion) as mysterious Maxim de Winter, whose English estate Manderley is the story's famous setting.
Rebecca has original book and lyrics by Michael Kunze, music by Sylvester Levay, English book adaptation by two-time Tony Award winner Christopher Hampton (Sunset Boulevard) and English lyrics by Hampton and Kunze.
Set in the West Country of England, Rebecca received a 2006 Vienna debut, where it played sold-out houses for over three years. Productions of Rebecca have also played Budapest, Hungary; Bucharest, Romania; Helsinki, Finland; Stuttgart, Germany (currently); St. Gallen, Switzerland (currently); and the Imperial Theatre in Tokyo.
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