Producer jailed for Kathleen Battle Broadway fraud

A would-be theatre producer has been arrested for fraud. Roland Scahill – a former theatre agent – raised USD165,000 (€146,000) from investors, after claiming he had secured the rights to the life story of opera singer Kathleen Battle.

Scahill told investors that Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o had signed up to play Battle. To further sweeten the deal, he said the show would be staged at the renowned Booth Theatre, and that Netflix would produce and distribute a film of the production.

However, none of this was true, and when Nyong’o announced she was working on another show investors began asking for their money back. Scahill sent them cheques, which bounced. He was arrest on 19 August and will face trial in New York.

Given that Battle has had a stormy career – she was fired by Metropolitan Opera in 1994, and has a reputation as a difficult diva – it is easy to understand why investors thought her life story would be a box office success.

It is the second swindle to hit Broadway in recent years. In 2012 Mark Hotton tricked producer Ben Sprecher into sending him an advance for a production of musical Rebecca. Hotton claimed to have backing from an overseas investor, who turned out to be fictitious. Hotton is now serving a three-year prison sentence.

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