Co. won't be playing a producing role in 'Folles' revival

NEW YORK — The Great White Way and the Great White North will have to wait a little longer to get together.

StageVentures II, the Toronto-based investment consortium looking to partner on a series of Broadway tuners, is finding it harder than originally thought to thaw out Canadian dollars to pour into shows down south.

Consequently, the group was forced to withdraw earlier this season from any involvement with the recently opened “Brooklyn” and won’t be playing a producing role, as it originally hoped, in the upcoming revival of “La Cage Aux Folles.”

“It just took longer that we had planned to bring everyone to the table,” said Michael Speyer, who runs the group with Bernard Abrams. Both are men with a long track record in funding Canuck films and television, but this marked their first legit excursion.

“We’re getting a lot of calls and we’re feeling optimistic,” added Speyer. “We’re aiming for a closing on Nov. 15 and after that, we’ll know exactly where we stand.”

Unfortunately, that date doesn’t work for the Nederlander Org, which is producing “La Cage.” As the Nederlanders’ Nick Scandalios explained it, “That would be too late for ‘La Cage’ because it will have begun previews, which means all capital would be in.”

Scandalios made it clear, however, that the Nederlanders were interested in keeping the door open to future cooperation with the duo. “We are currently working with StageVentures and hope that they will be investing in our shows. We could work on a project in 2005, of which we have a few in the final planning stages.”

The door remains open for above-the-line credit on another incoming show, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” now in a tryout run at San Diego’s Old Globe, with a Broadway opening slated for March.

Producer Marty Bell confirmed, “Our other investors have decided to wait as long as possible for StageVentures. Yes, if they come up with the money, they could still be listed as producers on our show. I like what they’re trying to do a lot. I think they could make a big difference in the business.”

Bell dismissed reports in the media that Speyer and Abrams had left his show in the lurch. “They were very upfront with everybody from day one about the possibility of raising or not raising the money,” he said. “If any producer depended on them and is now in trouble, that’s the producer’s problem, not theirs.”

More money problems

Although StageVentures had been in talks to invest in “Brooklyn,” they were never on board for producer Benjamin Mordecai’s other autumn offering on Broadway, August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean.”

This week, a major investor pulled out of that $2 million production, set to open Nov. 11. Mordecai has not disclosed how much money he needs to open the Wilson play. But sources report that he had been on the phone asking potential investors for $1 million.

Due to its financial straits, the show has postponed its load-in at the Walter Kerr Theater. It is performing at Boston Huntington Theater. Phylicia Rashad headlines.

Will “Gem” make it to Broadway?

Wilson is one of the theater’s most respected talents, and it is unlikely that one of his plays would not find a consortium of angels to rescue it. If Mordecai does not secure $1 million, it has been speculated that he will step down and let another producer lead the way.

Mordecai is producing “Gem of the Ocean” through Producers Four, which also includes Robert G. Bartner, Brian Brolly and Michael A. Jenkins.

Mordecai could not be reached for comment.

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