The legal troubles behind "Rebecca: The Musical" resurfaced this week, with veteran Broadway press agent Marc Thibodeau disputing Tuesday's ruling by a New York Supreme Court justice that he was in breach of contract for sending anonymous emails to a Florida investor who then pulled $2.35 million from the much-delayed production in 2012.
In the ruling, Justice Jeffrey Oing said a jury will decide the amount of damages to producers Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza. The judge also refused Thibodeau's motion to dismiss their claims of defamation and tortuous interference.
Thibodeau, press agent for such hits as "The Phantom of the Opera," considers himself a "classic whistle-blower." He argues that, though he had represented the show's producers for four years, he was not being paid by them when he sent the emails in September 2012. One email allegedly sent by Thibodeau warned the investor that the "walls were about to cave in on" the producers.
"Rebecca," an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's gothic novel, had already been roiled by an elaborate scam by Mark Hotton, a Long Island businessman, who was sentenced to 34 months in prison last October for defrauding the producers. Hotton had claimed he could provide $4.5 million to finance the show; when he failed to do so, he falsely claimed that a major investor had died of malaria on a safari.
In a statement, Ron G. Russo, lawyer for the producers, said, "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. . . . There simply is no longer any question but that 'Rebecca' was victimized twice -- first by Mark Hotton and then by Marc Thibodeau."
Russo said the producers are "more convinced than ever" that the show will finally open, though no one says when.