'Rebecca' court drama takes another turn

An exterior view of the Broadhurst Theatre, where

An exterior view of the Broadhurst Theatre, where the musical, "Rebecca," was to open in Manhattan. The play was ultimately cancelled due to lack of financing. (Oct. 3, 2012) (Credit: Charles Eckert)

A veteran Broadway press agent became entangled Tuesday in the twisting story and ongoing legal troubles of "Rebecca: The Musical."

In court papers filed Tuesday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, producer Ben Sprecher alleged that last September Marc Thibodeau sent a series of malicious and false emails to an investor who was prepared to provide $2.35 million in financing for the production, which is based on the Daphne du Maurier novel.

"Rebecca" already had its finances shaken when it was revealed that four overseas investors were allegedly fabrications of West Islip businessman Mark Hotton, who now faces federal charges in Manhattan over his actions. Hotton is being held without bail in a federal jail..

Sprecher sued Hotton last year over the problems his actions allegedly caused for the $12 million Broadway musical, which was to have begun previews in September.

In Tuesday's amended complaint in the case, Sprecher accused Thibodeau, who had been his press agent until Sept. 30, of authoring three emails, sent under pseudonyms, which discouraged the unnamed "angel" investor from putting the $2.35 million into the show after Hotton's investors proved to be fake.

One email allegedly sent by Thibodeau said the "walls were about to cave in on" producers Sprecher and Louise Forlenza, and asserted that "every major regular Broadway investor has passed on being part of the show."

The complaint accused Thibodeau of defamation and breach of fiduciary duty, and is seeking at least $200 million in damages.

Thibodeau, whose business The Publicity Company represents such hits as "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Chicago," was called an "innocent whistle-blower" by his lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman.

"He sent them," Lichtman said of the emails. "Marc did this because there are some people who actually care about other people being hurt."

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