(Bloomberg News) The producers of "Rebecca: The Musical" have 10 weeks to raise $4.5 million or confront the prospect of returning millions more in funds.
Such a task would be formidable in the best of circumstances. It's all the more daunting because investors are likely to be wary of putting money into a project whose twisted history -- replete with phantom angels and a rainmaker currently in the hands of federal authorities -- is more gothic than the show itself.
That's the predicament faced by Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza, the lead producers, or general partners, of "Rebecca."
They have until Dec. 31 to fill their financial hole or face the real-life investors who contributed millions and are entitled to a full refund, according to a criminal complaint filed in Manhattan federal court yesterday against Mark Hotton, a former Oppenheimer & Co. broker.
Hotton, 46, was charged with wire fraud after allegedly pocketing thousands of dollars in commissions for raising $4.5 million from investors who turned out to be figments of his imagination, according to the complaint.
In a telephone interview, Sprecher said he hadn't done anything wrong. "I did a Google search on him," he said of Hotton.
"Rebecca" was budgeted at $12 million to $14 million and based on Daphne du Maurier's 1938 novel. It was to have been directed by Michael Blakemore and Francesca Zambello.
"We're going to put the show on," Sprecher, 58, said. The existing investors, he said, "have been fantastically supportive." An opening has been delayed indefinitely.
Hotton and entities he controlled received more than $60,000 from the "Rebecca" fraud, including compensation for arranging a $1.1 million loan that was never funded, according to the complaint.