Rebecca Broadway LP vs. Marc Thibodeau went to the jury Tuesday afternoon after two weeks of testimony. The five women and one man had a range of information requests out of the gate in order to decide the civil suit, which was filed in 2013 after Rebecca the Musical collapsed amid a cash shortfall.
At 2:30 pm, Marc Thibodeau was a courageous truth teller. By 4 pm he was a destructive liar.
Closing statements at the Rebecca civil trial this afternoon painted opposing pictures of its former press agent and the musical he represented — and according to its producers, sabotaged.
EXCLUSIVE: The email was sent at 8:21 am Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. Subject line: “Confidential.”
“Have you ever Googled Mark Hotton Long Island?” wrote Marc Thibodeau, press agent for Rebecca the Musical, to lead producer Ben Sprecher about the West Islip, Long Island, stock broker Sprecher hired to raise money. Thibodeau wrote that he discovered “several instances of lawsuits against him for fraud.”
The publicist added that the broker hadn’t produced evidence that an investor named Paul Abrams who purportedly died of malaria — one of four mysterious overseas angels Hotton recruited — ever existed.
EXCLUSIVE: On Sept. 27, 2012, four days before Rebecca the Musical was to begin rehearsals, it sold 27 tickets.
The day’s “wrap,” or sales, was $2,952.50, according to an internal production document introduced this week in the Rebecca civil trial.
Its advance sale was $1.035 million, the document said. “That would be a weak advance,” testified Aaron Lustbader, a partner at Foresight Theatrical, the general manager of such shows as Phantom of the Opera. Lustbader wasn’t involved in Rebecca, which was postponed for the third and final time a day before rehearsals were to start. Big musicals typically wrap $50,000 each day before previews, he testified yesterday.
The Tony Award for best musical is commercially valuable, but what about nominations for plays? The next few weeks will test how much theatergoers care, with three of the four best play nominees box office under-performers.
Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, Hello, Dolly! and A Doll’s House, Part 2 got the most Tony Award nominations this morning in their respective categories.
Natasha competes against Dear Evan Hansen, Come From Away and Groundhog Day the Musical in the all-important new musical category. Among the high-profile snubs, the new musicals A Bronx Tale, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Amelie got no nominations. Also bageled was the hit musical revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard, although star Glenn Close, who won for the role in 1995, was out of contention.
Producer Ben Sprecher broke down on the stand today at the Rebecca civil trial in lower Manhattan, while recounting being forced to shutter the $12 million musical on the eve of its first rehearsal.
“The whole thing was a tragedy,” Sprecher testified, speaking with apparent difficulty. “I don’t know what to say.”
UPDATE: Producer Ben Sprecher’s 11-year quest to bring Rebecca the Musical to Broadway is over. Last year, he lost the rights to produce the show and now must repay his investors $5.5 million, his lawyer said in opening statements in the civil trial against his former press agent, Marc Thibodeau.
Sprecher, his partner, Louise Forlenza, and their lawyer, Erik Groothuis, all declined further comment. An email to licensor VBW International wasn’t returned.
Easter week was flush for Broadway’s flashiest star vehicles and dismal for serious new plays, Pulitzer Prize notwithstanding.
Two Scott Rudin productions in previews tell the story: Hello, Dolly! with Bette Midler passed $2 million for the first time, its average ticket rose $8 to $201, according to sales figures released by the Broadway League. Meanwhile Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House Part 2 was little changed at $91,000, with an average ticket of $24.
Ben Brantley called J.T. Rogers’ drama about the 1993 accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization “crackling theater” when he reviewed it over the summer. Since transferring from Lincoln Center Theater’s Mitzi Newhouse to the Vivian Beaumont, it sold a healthy $297,000 in its first four previews, buoyed by LCT members with access to discounted tickets.