A stockbroker is at the wrong end of a $100m lawsuit filed by a Broadway production team, reports Reuters. He is accused of jeopardizing the musical production of "Rebecca", which was due to star Jill Paice.
Mark Hotton, 46, following some financial difficulties surrounding the production, was put in touch the show's producers, Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza. He then came up with came up with four "investors" willing to pledge $4.5 million. This, however, was not true. "In fact, Hotton was perpetrating an elaborate ruse. None of the investors existed; he had concocted them all," according to the lawsuit filed in New York state court. "Hotton made up the names, dates of birth, home addresses, email addresses, telephone numbers, and signatures of purported investors." When it came time for money to to be in the direct vicinity of the mouth area, Hotton stated that Paul Abrams, the largest single investor, had died of malaria and the three other investors were pulling out. Again, not true: "This was a lie," the suit said, "although plaintiffs did not know it at the time."
The show's producers have delayed its opening, and there are now doubts about the future of a musical that debuted in 2006 in Vienna, Austria, but has yet to make it to London or Broadway.
The Broadway production of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca is currently at the centre of a bizarre plot that is quickly threatening to out-do the storyline of the play itself. The latest developments, as reported on by LA Times, suggests that a former stockbroker was arrested yesterday (October 15, 2012) “on suspicion of concocting a cast of phantom investors to defraud producers of the planned Broadway musical.”
The lines between fiction and reality are very often blurred in the world of theatre but such a blurring usually occurs on the stage, courtesy of the actors. In this case of this Rebecca Broadway show though, it’s one of the people funding the production that has been creating his own fiction and drama. Mark C Hotton had vowed that millions of dollars were coming in from various investors. When that money failed to materialize, the opening date of the production was delayed, rehearsals were put back and suspicion began to grow. Hotton’s elaborate lies involved the invention of an investor by the name of Paul Abrams, who mysteriously died of malaria after a trip to Africa. Then, Hotton created another fictional character, by the name of Wexler, who was supposed to be ensuring that Abrams’ investment still made its way to the production.
Investigators soon discovered that Hotton had created a “trove of fake email addresses, business websites, and fictitious names and addresses. All of them led back to Hotton, according to the complaint, and a review of IP addresses showed that most of the emails were sent from computers in New York linked to Hotton.” Hotton, aged 46, has been charged with two counts of wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years. Whether or not the production of Rebecca, starring Jill Paice, can still continue looks pretty doubtful; the curtain may now have well and truly fallen on this Broadway adventure.
The story surrounding the beleaguered Broadway musical Rebecca, starring Jill Paice, is almost as dramatic as the stage play itself. New York Post have reported that the musical’s producers have ben forced to postpone the opening night of the musical, which was expected to begin next month. The play is based on Daphne DuMaurier’s novel of the same name and has been in pre-production for over a year. The show’s producer Ben Sprecher has claimed that the $12 million production has been derailed, following the death of a potential investor.
The plot thickens, however, as the Post report that the apparent death of Paul Abrams – the potential investor – has not been confirmed. In a statement, the show’s producers claim that they were “left with no option” but to postpone the opening of the show, following Abram’s death; they have claimed that he died of malaria, following a trip to Africa. Neither his existence, nor his death seem to have been verified. What’s worse, Sprecher claims that another potential investor, who could have saved the production was scared away by a ‘poison pen’ email “filled with lies and innuendo.” The statement claimed that the email was designed to scare away the investor and it worked.
“Why anyone would be so hateful and cruel and would go to such a huge amount of effort to uncover confidential information… is something I am having a terrible time grasping” said the statement. “We will not stop our efforts to mount this show and alternatives are already unfolding. We will continue doing everything we can to protect this asset and our investors. We have provided a copy of this e-mail to the proper authorities and a criminal investigation is already under way.” Until then, the lives of Rebecca’s cast and crew (including director Michael Blakemore) have been thrown into limbo.