Theatre Matters

Contemplations on the dramatic arts from a national perspective

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Steven Oxman has contributed to such publications as the Los Angeles Times, American Theatre, Stagebill, and, most frequently, Variety, for which he has written over 300 television and theatre reviews.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Funding Fiasco?

The funding problems bedeviling Broadway, mentioned in this post earlier, now threaten to bring down the much-anticipated opening of August Wilson's "Gem of the Ocean."

Apparently, over half of the $2.3 million capitalization has fallen out, although none of the articles mentions the specific investors.

Producer Ben Mordecai has agreed to step aside to seek help from some big-name competitors.

I'm a bit troubled by Michael Riedel's piece in The Post, which labels Mordecai as a producer "with a history of financial problems on Broadway."

Mordecai has certainly had his fair share of flops, including Wilson's last, "King Hedley II," and the re-written "Flower Drum Song." And I can't claim any knowledge of the current situation. But let's be very clear here: Ben Mordecai is a leading theatrical producer, and not some seedy Max Bialystock. Maybe Riedel didn't intend the innuendo, but it certainly comes through.

Mordecai for years has run the management program at Yale Drama School. I'm an alum and encounter Mordecai every once in a while. I don't know him well, but have never sniffed even a scent of scandal surrounding him. I feel very comfortable saying that, without further info, he deserves sympathy for the current situation, rather than Riedel's implications of fraud.