Convicted producer plots new projects

TORONTO — Despite being convicted of fraud and forgery in a Canadian court this summer and sentenced to seven years in prison, legit producer Garth Drabinsky is attempting a theatrical comeback with a trio of shows planned for Toronto and the West End.

According to a report in Friday’s Toronto Star, the disgraced former Livent topper is planning to revive two of his previous shows, “Barrymore” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” as well as planning a Canadian tour of “Finian’s Rainbow.”

Drabinsky has appealed both the verdict and sentence in his case and is free on bail pending hearings, which are not to reach the courts until spring 2010 at the earliest.

The most concrete of the producer’s fresh plans involves remounting the 1997 “Barrymore” at Toronto’s Elgin Theater in February before taking the show to London. Christopher Plummer, who won a Tony for his performance in the William Luce play, is believed to be attached to reprise the role.

The other rumored projects — a “Finian’s” tour to feature Drabinsky’s former “Phantom of the Opera” star, Colm Wilkinson, and an all-black revival of Tony-winning Kander and Ebb tuner “Kiss of the Spider Woman” — are without further details.

In connection with “Finian’s,” one of the Gotham producers of the show’s current Broadway revival, Bernard Abrams, denied emphatically that Drabinsky holds Canadian rights to the project. It also seems odd to cast Wilkinson, best known for his vocal abilities, in the non-singing title role.

In 2002, Drabinsky announced similar plans for a Broadway revival of “The Dresser,” to star Plummer and be directed by Daniel Sullivan. But it was scuttled after the N.Y. District Attorney’s office called the producer “a wanted fugitive,” indicating the office would do everything in its power to stop the production.

Drabinsky still faces 16 indictments of fraud in the U.S. that were filed against him in 1999; he has been avoiding the American justice system since that time.

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