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Exclusive Interview: REBECCA Producer Ben Sprecher Responds to Marc Thibodeau, Talks Musical's Future and Why He Won't Give Up


Exclusive Interview: REBECCA Producer Ben Sprecher Responds to Marc Thibodeau, Talks Musical's Future and Why He Won't Give Up As of yesterday, May 12, REBECCA's publicist Marc Thibodeau has been found liable for sending emails that caused a potential investor to pull millions from the Broadway musical in its eleventh hour of need.

Responding to Thibodeau's recent comments in which the press agent defended his actions as "those of a classic whistle-blower", REBECCA lawyer Ronald Russo has released a statement.

It reads:

"While Mark Thibodeau continues to press his warped view of his own conduct, earlier today an independent unbiased New York State Supreme Court Justice roundly rejected his view and found him to have breached his contract and his responsibilities as a publicist and employee of Rebecca, The Musical.

None of Mr. Thibodeau' s posturing or self-serving explanations will change the fact that his so-called "whistle-blowing" acts cost the play the investment that it required and had received. Nor will his most recent press release remedy the damage his reckless conduct caused the creators, the actors and the investors. Indeed, as the Court ruled today, those damages will be determined at an upcoming trial now that it has been determined that Mr. Thibodeau breached his agreement.

Perhaps most troubling in his most recent post is Mr. Thibodeau' s repetition of the lie that the producers knew they were being defrauded and somehow were complicit. Again, Mr. Thibodeau blinks reality and chooses to ignore another Court proceeding in which Mr. Hotton pled guilty to defrauding Rebecca. There simply is no longer any question but that Rebecca was victimized twice.....first by Mark Hotton and then by Marc Thibodeau.

It is now crystal clear that but for one publicist's outrageous betrayal, the curtain would have gone up on Rebecca, The Musical in the fall of 2012. With today's Supreme Court ruling we are more convinced than ever that Rebecca, The Musical will open soon!"

Sprecher, who described himself as "shocked" by Thibodeau's explanation, spoke with BroadwayWorld today about the legal implications of the latest ruling, REBECCA's future, and why he won't give up on bringing Daphne du Maurier's tale to the Great White Way.

Exclusive Interview: REBECCA Producer Ben Sprecher Responds to Marc Thibodeau, Talks Musical's Future and Why He Won't Give Up BroadwayWorld: Now that the case surrounding REBECCA is getting close to being finished, how will the resolution of it affect the musical going forward?

Ben Sprecher: Well, first of all, it's not close to being over. There's still a trial to come. All that's happened is that the judge handed down a decision that makes [Thibodeau] liable for the damages as it involves breach of contract. The amount of money has to be determined by trial, and there are two other motions, one for defamation, and one for tortious interference, which the defense had made a motion for summary dismissal, which the judge rejected. So it is over in the sense that he's guilty. There's no going back. I guess the metaphor is, if you have a gun, and it's got three bullets in it, one of the bullets got shot yesterday, and Mr. Thibodeau got killed. But you've still got to shoot the other two bullets.

What amount will Thibodeau have to pay in damages?

It depends on what happens with the show. If the show gets on, then the damages would be whatever the amount that the show was at the moment that we stopped it because of what he did, and whatever the show cost as of the moment that it gets on, plus legal expenses, and the storage and additional costs it took us to maintain this position while we continue to get the show on. So that has to be quantified. If the show doesn't get on, then it's everything. We're talking about millions and millions and millions of dollars.

Have you checked on the sets in storage?

I check on them all the time. Who's got it is a very, very famous trucking and storage company in the theatre -- Anthony Augliera -- and they have been absolutely superb caretakers of the entire physical production. It's been absolutely brilliantly handled.

Who of the original cast and creative team are still on board?

We think the entire company is on board with the show; everybody's committed to staying with it. But I have three friends -- Nick Wyman, Karen Mason, and James Barbour.

And the creative team?

The team is in place.

This time around, how far along is the financing?

I'm not going to get specific with money, but we're working on it every day.

Could you answer whether it's further along than last time?

Sure. It's further along.

You've made several announcements about potential Broadway opening dates, and BroadwayWorld last reported REBECCA was aiming for this fall.

The last one that you announced was delayed because of what Marc Thibodeau did.

And now you're hoping for Spring 2016?

I'm making no announcements of dates, but we're doing the best we can. When I announce the next date, it'll be locked in. All of the money will be in the bank, we will have a theater, all of the pieces of the puzzle will be in place. I will not be announcing anything until that happens.

You've been so committed to this project, even with all of the drama surrounding REBECCA over the last three years. What keeps you going?

After doing this for 30 years, you learn something. You have to produce what you like, or love, really. And REBECCA checks all the boxes. It is a brilliant piece of storytelling that is surprising, and that's very hard to find, and that really comes from Daphne du Maurier. It's a great story that happens in a very unexpected way. So that's first. Second, the music is brilliant. Third, I have a brilliant creative team that's created an absolutely fantastic production, which is now in its eleventh production. English, I think, will be its tenth language. It's all over the world. And it continues to resonate in every market it's in. It's a big, big hit.

Number four, the business of Broadway is musicals. That's where you make money. That's where real business occurs, because they run forever if you're lucky. And the audience comes to see musicals, especially in New York and London, where there's large tourist markets. I do plays, and I'm doing THE EXORCIST right now, which I do believe has got a similar quality as a play opening in London, but if you're a Broadway producer and you've really paid your dues, the goal is to produce a very substantial musical that is both a great story, a beautiful production, and engaging on an emotional level. That's what REBECCA is. You don't find them; they're hard to do. And especially when you spend years of your life developing it and getting it right and making sure we've done all the right things to it and not rushed it. And in my opinion, it would be a venial sin to not allow REBECCA to appear on Broadway. It would just be a tragedy. So, I do this because I love the show, I love the theatre, and I don't know how to do anything else.

And so all of this nonsense that's happened to it -- it's been very daunting personally -- but at the end of the day, it's also been a teaching moment. I have children -- I have a 17-year-old and a 14-year-old -- and the best thing I can show them is that in the face of real problems, it's not what happens to you when you get hit, it's how you get up. It's about resilience, you know. I'm not one that gives up. There's a very fine line between persistence and insanity. When do you become so persistent that you become an insane person? And the answer is everyone has to find that line for themselves. I have very thick skin.

What's one thing you'd like audience members to focus on, or how do you think they should approach REBECCA, even with all its baggage?

I don't think it matters once they see the show. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that everybody is aware of REBECCA. Nobody remembers exactly what happened because it's so complicated, but it doesn't matter. If anything, if you stand back from this, assuming the show gets on, anything that's happened to REBECCA has made it probably one of the most famous titles for a Broadway musical that has yet to be produced. So there's a tremendous awareness of it. I'm interested in the word of mouth that's created by a show when they come out and they go, "Holy sh*t. You've got to see this." That's what REBECCA is, and the rest of it, all this other nonsense, falls away.

And that's what REBECCA does in every market it plays in -- Vienna, Budapest, Moscow, Tokyo, Prague, Seoul, Stuttgart. So how can I give up on this?

I'll tell you one funny story. I'm sitting in the office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Saturday, September 27, 2012. Marc Thibodeau sent the email on Friday. The FBI came in because they were all worried about Mark Hotton, who I had already put aside. To me, Mark Hotton was -- well, he didn't get us the money, so let's just move on and find it elsewhere, which we did. But now the email comes up, and it was just like, "Oh my God, how can that happen?" and I had to stop the show that weekend. And I've got hundreds of people in New York that were ready to start rehearsals that Monday.

I'm under enormous stress, and this FBI agent says to me, "Do you know this guy Mark Hotton?" And I said, "Yeah, he raised some money but I can't seem to get it. It's for the show, which I have to start rehearsal on Monday." She says, "Oh, really? What's the show?" I say, "It's REBECCA, written by Daphne du Maurier." And this 35- or 40-year-old FBI agent looks at me and she goes, "REBECCA? I love REBECCA." And I'm thinking, "I know! That's why I'm doing this. I've got to get back to work." That was like a lightning bolt. This FBI agent was all excited because Broadway's going to see REBECCA. And I'm sitting in this damn office trying to work this thing out.

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