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Scoop: REBECCA Trial Update; Testimony Today Throws Timeline Into Question


The ill-fated musical REBECCA, which cancelled its Broadway run in 2012, is getting its time in court, in a trial that began on Monday.

On the stand today in the trial was Ben Smith, an Australian property developer who at just under $2 million dollars has one of the largest stakes in the failed production.

During his cross-examination, Smith was asked about the timeline of events involving Paul Abrams, the large 'investor' that was later revealed to be fictitious. Smith confirmed that he'd agreed to release additional funds to the production on September 2, 2012 and went on to testify that he'd been told by Sprecher that Abrams did not exist before additional funds were released.

This throws into question the timeline of when Sprecher became aware of the fraud involved in the production, which was previously believed to have first been uncovered by a September 25th New York Times story detailing their failed attempts to find Abrams.

A Vanity Fair article detailing the timeline of the saga noted that Sprecher was visited by the FBI on September 26th following the Times piece, and later by the US Attorney's Office on September 29th.

In earlier news, According to Deadline, it was revealed in an opening argument that, after years of postponements, producers Ben Sprecher and Louise Florenza have indeed lost the rights to the musical.

"By the end of last year, they had lost the rights to Rebecca and will not be bringing it to Broadway," said Erik S. Groothius, who represents the producers.

The Broadway production had been beleaguered with a series of financial setbacks, including the discovery of a mystery investor who turned out to be the fabrication of a scam artist. The show's press agent, Marc Thibodeau, a well-known Broadway press rep, made the decision to send emails to an investor who believed he was investing $2.25 million anonymously. According to the report, he later claimed he did so because "he could not stand by as a potential investor was kept in the dark about the show's financial history."

The musical REBECCA was described as "a spectacular new musical drawn from the classic Daphne Du Maurier novel about love and obsession reaching from beyond the grave. In this romanticthriller, 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 over three years. It continued with successful productions in Budapest, Hungary; Bucharest, Romania; Helsinki, Finland; Stuttgart, Germany; St. Gallen, Switzerland and at the Imperial Theatre in Tokyo.

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