The Wall Street Journal

October 31, 2016

‘Comet’ Producers Sued Over Credit

Pia Catton

Backstage Buzz: The New Face of ‘Liaisons’

The New Face of ‘Liaisons’ An array of stars-including Pierce Brosnan, Naomi Watts, Lucy Liu, Bernadette Peters, Hugh Dancy and Claire Danes-came out for opening night of Josie Rourke’s revival of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” at the Booth Theatre Sunday. Most came in support of Janet McTeer and Liev Schreiber in the lead roles.

Can the dulcet tones of Josh Groban distract audiences from the offstage debacle at “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”?

So far, audiences are flocking to the musical, which has grossed more than $1 million in each of its first two weeks of previews, according to Broadway League data.

But lawyers are circling, too: On Friday, Ars Nova, the nonprofit that originally developed and produced the show, filed suit against its lead commercial producer, Howard Kagan, a former board member, over how the organization is credited in the Playbill.

In its complaint filed in New York State Supreme Court, the company says the words “The Ars Nova Production of” were agreed to by Mr. Kagan’s production company. But Mr. Kagan later decided, according to the complaint, that Ars Nova should be listed as one of 38 producers.

Mr. Kagan declined to comment Monday. A spokesman issued a statement Friday saying the production team hopes for a swift resolution and private discussions.

While a few words may not loom large to most audiences, Ars Nova’s attorney, Richard Roth of Roth Law Firm, said: “The essence of their success is not profit. So the fact that he took away the credit is a big thing.”

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