SOUSATZKA Producer Garth Drabinsky Seeks to Bypass OSC Penalties in Fraud Case
Producer Garth Drabinsky, who has admitted to and served time in Canada for his part in a fraud at the now-defunct Livent Production Company, has just begun hearings with the Ontario Securities Commission.
While acknowledging his wrongdoing, Drabinsky is seeking to overturn the OSC's proposed penalties in the case, which include banning him from trading securities in Ontario, and, perhaps more importantly for his future as a producer of musicals, barring him from "acting as a director or officer of a company," according to a report in The Daily Globe and Mail.
The producer behind the Broadway-bound SOUSATZKA, Drabinsky was convicted for fraud in 2009. Since then, his lawyer Richard Shekter argued at the hearing, Drabinsky has had 19 years of "unblemished conduct."
"Mr. Drabinsky did the things that are alleged between 1993 and 1998 - between 19 and 24 years ago," Shekter said. "Since that time, he has dedicated himself to making things right ...He served hard time, which was a sobering experience. He has not only learned his lesson, he has turned it around."
The OSC has rejected Drabinsky's settlement offer, which would have allowed him to "own and manage a private family company and to trade public securities for his retirement accounts."
Business executives, including the CEO of Teatro Proscenium Inc. Richard Stursberg - who is producing SOUSATZKA - will testify on Drabinsky's behalf at the hearings this week.
According to OSC lawyer Pamela Foy, even without the proposed exceptions to the penalties, Drabinsky is able to produce his shows. He does not own the Production Company and is considered a regular employee, earning a salary and royalties from his projects. That money is then funneled into a family trust. "This is not a true question of livelihood here," she added.
Although he served five years in prison for the Livent fraud, Drabinsky was never extradited to the United States, and the charges relating to 16 counts of fraud and conspiracy have not been tested in the American courts.
The world premiere engagement of Drabinsky's SOUSATZKA, with book by Craig Lucas, music by David Shire, and lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr., based on the original novel "Madame Sousatzka" by Bernice Rubens, begins in Toronto on February 25. The show is expected to make its way to New York next October at a to-be-determined Broadway venue.
Directed by Adrian Noble and choreographed by Graciela Daniele, the production stars Victoria Clark, Montego Glover, Judy Kaye and Jordan Barrow. Based on the original novel Madame Sousatzka, written by Bernice Rubens, Sousatzka is set in London, England in 1982 and tells the story of a musical prodigy torn between two powerful women from vastly different worlds: his mother, a political refugee from South Africa and his piano teacher, a brilliant eccentric with a shattered past. These two proud, iconoclastic women must ultimately cross cultural and racial divides to find common ground, or else jeopardize the young musician's destiny.
Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann