The woeful tale of the Broadway-bound musical Rebecca continues. The musical had to cancel its Broadway engagement last season due to lack of funds, and now it has canceled its planned production this season, once again due to investor troubles. The show initially just delayed rehearsals when a key investor, Paul Abrams, died from malaria, as lead producer Ben Sprecher announced his commitment to ensuring that they could secure the needed funds to proceed with the production. However, in a new announcement from Sprecher and co-producer Louise Forlenza, they have said that they now must officially postpone the production since, they claim, that their replacement investor was scared away by a malicious email sent by an anonymous person.
The postponement of the show itself–a misfortune for the many cast members, the creative team, and crew members who expected to have a job this season–has been overshadowed by the many questions surrounding the investor whose untimely death prompted Rebecca‘s postponement. A New York Times investigation into the matter revealed that Sprecher never actually spoke to or met Abrams, only dealing with this major investor via email. And the death of said Paul Abrams could never actually be confirmed. Sprecher was apparently informed through email of Abrams’ death from a person identified only as “Wexler,” supposedly a representative of the estate. These circumstances have led to much speculation as to whether or not the mysterious investor Paul Abrams even existed.
Despite all this, Ben Sprecher insisted in a statement that, “We will not stop our efforts to mount this show and alternatives are already unfolding.”
Rebecca, the new Broadway musical set to begin preview performances on October 30, is creating advance buzz by way of an interactive online “journey” for fans dubbed The Manderley Experience (Manderley is the name of the mansion estate where Rebecca, based on the Daphne du Maurier novel, takes place). From July through October, fans will have the chance to win one-of-a-kind, show-related experiences each month, leading up to the biggest of all, an Opening Night package for Rebecca‘s Broadway opening night on November 18.
The Manderley Experience is run primarily through Rebecca‘s Facebook page. Each time fans interact with the world of Rebecca there, they earn ShowPoints that can be redeemed for rewards and automatically enter them into the running for each month’s prize.
The monthly Rebecca prizes include a master class with the show’s own make-up artist and a make-up kit to take home, a backstage tour of the Rebecca costume closet and a signed memento, the chance to shadow the stage manager before a performance and a prop to take home, and a vocal warm-up with one of the cast members. All of the prizes also include tickets to see a performance of Rebecca on Broadway.
The grand prize is for opening night, which gets the winner a trip to New York City, a stay at the W Hotel, designer clothes for the occasion, and a limousine-chauffeured trip to see the show. More details are available at www.rebeccathemusical.com.
If Rebecca the musical finds this unique marketing strategy effective, more Broadway shows might follow suit. It is a good way to get potential fans engaged in the world of the musical early on and to get the show buzzing on Facebook. What’s more, the cost to the show’s producers is probably relatively cheap when one considers that most of the prizes are about providing a backstage experience with a staff member rather than giving away an expensive item.