REBECCA Cast Member Karen Mason Speaks Out on Producer Controversy - Remains 'Invincible'
This morning, October 3, the following letter was composed by one of the Principal cast members of REBECCA, Karen Mason, in hopes of clearing up the ongoing speculation of the cancelled Broadway prodution of REBECCA:
"In the past several days, there has been a lot of speculation and innuendo about the production of REBECCA.
And more specifically, about its producer, Ben Sprecher . Those of us who have actually been part of this whole mysterious journey tell a different story about him. Ben assembled for REBECCA an incredibly prestigious and brilliant creative staff, and one of the most generous, tenacious casts I have had the pleasure to know. He treated us respectfully -- not as employees, but as partners in an artistic endeavor.
This past Monday, we had our first Company Meeting. It was a sad, emotional couple of hours. In my heart, all I really wanted to do was start working on my song (yes, I am already possessive of Mrs. Danvers!) “Invincible”.
What I know is that I left that meeting feeling that Ben Sprecher was an ethical man, and someone I would be honored to work with. I have been in this business a very long time, and my instincts are very good about people. I am telling you that Ben Sprecher is a fine human being, and one of those rare Theatrical Producers who truly cares about the Theatre.
I am heartsick about the aggressive press about this situation. When did we become so mean-spirited as a community? Have we always been so willing to assume the worst about someone? Even when there are no real facts available? This behavior makes me very sad.
Donna English, a fellow castmember of REBECCA wrote this on FACEBOOK; and she gave me permission to include it in this letter:
“There is a story being told about “Rebecca”. It’s a story that has appeared in major papers and online, with the drumbeat growing ever louder for our demise. Yet it’s a story based mostly on innuendo. Admittedly, it’s a mysterious, crazy story, and one that lends itself well to a juicy newspaper headline and gossip.
But I’d like to tell a different story about “Rebecca”. A story about a group of actors who have stuck by this production for many months, and a producer who is trying to put on a show against what seems like insurmountable odds. It’s a very human story.
Yesterday the entire cast as well as the creative team and producers came together on what would have been our long awaited first day of rehearsal. Although the meeting may have begun with skepticism from some, no one was there with pitchfork in hand, ready to string someone up. This is an amazing group of people who have bonded together over these past months, and the love and sadness in the room was palpable. Four of our producers were there, as well as our esteemed director, choreographer and writers, all of whom were very supportive of our lead producer, Ben Sprecher. Ben, who was distraught, was very forthcoming in telling us of the events over these past few weeks, ending with the most recent and disturbing case of wire fraud that is now under criminal investigation. He offered us a chance to ask questions, and he answered those questions. He and Mr. Blakemore shared their continued belief in the show and in us as a company, and Ben vowed he would not give up. The meeting ended with a general feeling of immense warmth and support (including a standing ovation for Ben as he left to go meet with the Shuberts), and the hope that we would all meet again under happier circumstances.
This story is still unfolding, and I ask that people reserve judgment until it has been told in full. Hold up your fellow actors. Hold up producers who take this crazy gamble because they believe in a theatrical project so much. Give the benefit of the doubt instead of joining in the negative drumbeat of innuendo and rumors. “
I write this for myself, Donna English, and Jill Paice…and other cast and crew members of REBECCA who are just heartsick by the vitriole.
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. -