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Broadway stumble for ‘Rebecca’

Musical cancels spring opening amid fund-raising problem

Broadway-bound tuner “Rebecca” has hit another roadblock, with producers, unable to raise funds in time, pulling the plug on an upcoming spring bow at the Broadhurst Theater.

Lead producer Ben Sprecher, who had raised 80% of the $12 million capitalization costs, vowed to get the show on the Rialto next season. The musical had been set to begin rehearsals in two weeks ahead of a March 27 start for previews.

“‘Rebecca’ is a grand and spectacular musical requiring substantial capitalization, and it’s no secret that in this very negative economic climate, raising money for Broadway has become even more difficult and laborious than it has historically always been,” Sprecher said in a statement.

The economy was similarly flagged as the reason another large-scale tuner, a revival of “Funny Girl,” fell through earlier this season. Some legiters take issue with such explanations, arguing instead that fund-raising troubles hit specific shows based on investor confidence in individual projects.

Overall, the tide of musicals hasn’t slowed this spring, with new tuners “Newsies,” “Once,” “Ghost” and “Nice Work If You Can Get It” set to open alongside revivals of “Evita” and “Jesus Christ Superstar”; “Porgy and Bess” recently opened.

“Rebecca” previously had targeted a West End bow, but that staging was scuttled due to complications involving a complex tech effect.

Based on the 1938 Daphne du Maurier novel about a woman seemingly haunted by the ghost of her new husband’s first wife, the musical version of “Rebecca” originally preemed in a 2006 German-language production from book writer-lyricist Michael Kunze and composer Sylvester Levay. Helmed by Francesca Zambello, the tuner ran in Vienna for more than three years and also spawned other incarnations in Europe and Asia.

New, English-language version of the show has a book by Christopher Hampton with English lyrics by Hampton and Kunze. Michael Blakemore joins Zambello as co-helmer, with Graciela Daniele on board for musical staging.

The spring production of “Rebecca” had lined up a cast of principals that included Sierra Boggess, Tam Mutu, Karen Mason, James Barbour and Howard McGillin.

“Rebecca” is produced by Sprecher, Louise Forlenza, the Shubert Org, David Mirvish/DC Tours, Nanda Anand and Peter Bogyo, among others.

Despite the quick turnaround required by the Tony eligibility cutoff of April 26, it’s looking likely another production can be found to fill in the vacancy at the Broadhurst, with a number of producers circling for an in-demand spot on the Rialto.