The twisting tale of REBECCA's cancellation on Broadway made a new turn this morning with multiple news outlets reporting that troubled financier and stock broker Mark C. Hotton was arrested this morning at 6am for his role in the show's collapse.
The Times reports that "A two count criminal complaint charges him with defrauding the show’s producers of $60,000 and also accused him in an unrelated $750,000 real estate scheme which prosecutors said featured some of the same deceptions used in the Rebecca fraud."
A press release on the arrest notes “As described in the criminal complaint, Mark Hotton perpetrated stranger-than-fiction frauds both on and off Broadway. As part of one alleged scheme, Hotton concocted a cast of characters to invest in a major musical – investors who turned out to be deep-pocketed phantoms. To carry out the alleged fraud, Hotton faked lives, faked companies and even staged a fake death, pretending that one imaginary investor had suddenly died from malaria. Ultimately, Hotton’s imagination was no match for the FBI which uncovered, with lightning speed, his alleged financial misdeeds.”
Two weeks ago, Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza, producers for Rebecca, the Musical, announced that they were left with no option but to postpone the show. They released a statement at that time, noting that "After Paul Abrams, a major investor, passed away in London, on August 5th, 2012, and who, with three other colleagues, represented the last portion of $4.5 million of the full capitalization for the production... On September 28th, Sprecher and Forlenza were informed that an extremely malicious e-mail, filled with lies and innuendo, had been sent directly to a new investor that morning from an anonymous third party. The e-mail was designed to scare this investor away and it succeeded. The investor withdrew."
According to the New York Post on Sunday, October 7, Ronald Russo, lawyer for producer Ben Sprecher has now said that "Sprecher had been led to “Abrams” by shadowy Long Island businessman, Mark Hotton, who told him Abrams died before he could hand over the dough, sources have said. There also were three other investors Hotton told Sprecher about who supposedly promised another combined $2 million for the show, the sources have said. But “following an extensive search over the last week, I can now confirm that there is no evidence whatever that “Paul Abrams” or any of the other three investors brought to this production by Mr. Hotton, ever existed,” said Sprecher’s lawyer, Ronald Russo. The lawyer said they conducted an investigation in both the US and England."
REBECCA, the new musical based on the classic novel by Daphne Du Maurier novel, previously delayed the start of its rehearsals by two weeks due reportedly to the death of a key investor responsible for a $4.5 million investment pool in the production. REBECCA was scheduled to begin rehearsals Monday, September 10 prior to an October 30 first preview and November 18 premiere at the Broadhurst Theatre.
REBECCA features original book and lyrics by Michael Kunze, music by Sylvester Levay, English book adaptation by two-time Tony Award winner Christopher Hampton (Sunset Boulevard), English lyrics by Hampton and Kunze, and direction by Tony Award winner Michael Blakemore (Kiss Me, Kate; City of Angels; Noises Off) and Francesca Zambello (Little Mermaid). Multiple Tony-nominated director/choreographer Graciela Daniele (Ragtime) will create The Musical staging for the show. Scenic design is by Peter J. Davidson, costumes by Jane Greenwood, lighting by Mark McCullough, sound by Peter Fitzgerald, hair & wig design by Tom Watson and special effects by Gregory Meehand projections by Sven Ortel. Musical direction and supervision is by Kevin Stites.
The cast of REBECCA was to feature Jill Paice as “I”, Ryan Silverman as Maxim DeWinter, Karen Mason as Mrs. Danvers, James Barbour as Jack Favell, Howard McGillin as Frank Crawley, Donna English as Beatrice de Winter, Henry Stram as Ben and Nick Wyman as Giles.
REBECCA is a new musical drawn from the classic Daphne Du Maurier novel about love and obsession reaching from beyond the grave. In this romantic thriller, Maxim de Winter brings his new wife (“I”) home to his estate of Manderley. There she meets the intimidating housekeeper Mrs. Danvers, who had a very special relationship with Maxim’s first wife, the beautiful Rebecca, who died a year earlier in a boating accident. The young woman discovers Manderley is a house of devastating secrets, and the mystery of Rebecca may be the greatest of them all as she finds the strength to challenge Mrs. Danvers and save her marriage.
REBECCA had its world premiere in 2006 at Vereinigte Buhnen Wien in Vienna, where it played to sold-out houses for more than three years. Vastly successful productions of REBECCA have also played Budapest, Hungary; Bucharest, Romania; Helsinki, Finland; Stuttgart, Germany; St. Gallen, Switzerland and at the Imperial Theatre in Tokyo.