Rehearsals were supposed to begin today for the gothic musical "Rebecca," based on the best-selling novel by Daphne du Maurier. But the dark $12 million Broadway show has been postponed for the second time due to events which look as if they could have sprung from the play's plot itself. False identities, millions of dollars and a mysterious e-mail make up this bizarre tale of wealth and deceit.
The drama began with a mysterious investor identified by the New York Times as Paul Abrams, a Broadway insider who pledged $4.5 million -- a third of the show's budget -- to its producer Ben Sprecher. Abrams died suddenly in August from malaria, yet there was no obituary or death certification for the wealthy benefactor. It was later revealed that Sprecher had never met or even spoken on the phone to Abrams, a man who may not even exist.
Sprecher postponed rehearsals temporarily during the hunt for new capital, and eventually found a new source to nearly fill Abrams' gap. The play was slated to finally begin rehearsals when the new investor was scared off by an anonymous e-mail last Friday that was "filled with lies and innuendo," the producers wrote in a statement to Playbill.
The producers question the unnamed e-mailer's motives and character: "Why anyone would be so hateful and cruel and would go to such a huge amount of effort to uncover confidential information... and send such an e-mail with the goal being to shut down a production that involves the jobs of over a hundred people and their families, is something I am having a terrible time grasping," Playbill reports. After this unexpected turn of events actors, musicians, artists, technicians and the rest of the team are left in limbo until producers can find a new way to fill the funding gap.
The bizarre unfolding of events, complete with ghostly benefactors and anonymous letters, seems to mirror the play's plot quite nicely, which tells of an English estate haunted by a beautiful woman who died years ago. Of the turmoil, a veteran producer told the New York Post: "I have never seen anything like this. And I don't think it's over."
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Correction: An earlier version of this article listed "Auster" not Abrams, in the second paragraph. We apologize for the confusion.