The Scarlet Pimpernel (musical)
|The Scarlet Pimpernel|
Original Cast Recording
|Basis||Baroness Orczy's novel
The Scarlet Pimpernel
1997 Broadway (SP 1.0)
The Scarlet Pimpernel is a musical with music by Frank Wildhorn and lyrics and book by Nan Knighton, based on the novel of the same name by Baroness Orczy. The show is set in England and France during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution. The story is a precursor to the spy fiction and the superhero genres, where a hero hides under a mild-mannered alias.
The musical ran on Broadway from 1997 through January 2000 in several theatres, in several revised versions. It also had a US National tour.
The Scarlet Pimpernel started as a workshop with Carolee Carmello as Marguerite and directed by Nick Corley, following a concept album (and Top 40 Adult Contemporary Hit - "You Are My Home").
The musical debuted on Broadway at the Minskoff Theatre on October 7, 1997 in previews, officially on November 9, 1997. Directed by Peter H. Hunt, it starred Douglas Sills (Sir Percy Blakeney), Christine Andreas (Marguerite St. Just), Terrance Mann (Citizen Chauvelin), Marine Jahan (Madame St. Cyr), Tim Shew (St. Cyr), Elizabeth Ward (Marie), Philip Hoffman (Tussaud), James Judy (Dewhurst), Sandy Rosenberg (Lady Digby), Pamela Burrell (Lady Llewellyn), Gilles Chiasson (Armand St. Just), Ed Dixon (Ozzy), Allen Fitzpatrick (Farleigh), Bill Bowers (Leggett), Adam Pelty (Elton), Ron Sharpe (Hal), William Thomas Evans (Hastings), Dave Clemmons (Ben), R.F. Daley (Neville), David Cromwell (Robespierre/Prince of Wales/Fisherman), Ken Labey (Grappin), Eric Bennyhoff (Coupeau), Jeff Gardner (Mercier), James Dybas (Jessup), Melissa Hart (Helene), and Alison Lory (Chloe).
In June shortly before the Tony Awards were announced, the show was slated to close. The show's fans known as "The League" decided it should have another try. With falling ticket sales, the show ushered in new producers and reopened with Sills and two new leads, Rex Smith and Rachel York and a vastly rearranged production in October 1998 (a year after the previous opening). The show closed at the Minskoff Theatre on May 30, 1999. It had a mini-tour of a scaled-down version in the Summer of 1999 with three new leads. The revised version (called the 3.0 version) opened on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre on September 7, 1999, closing on January 2, 2000 for a grand total of 772 performances and 39 previews. The cast starred Ron Bohmer, Marc Kudisch and Carolee Carmello. Like Wildhorn's two other big budget Broadway efforts (Jekyll & Hyde and The Civil War), the musical closed having lost money.
A US National tour began on February 20, 2000, through April 1, 2001, directed and choreographed by Robert Longbottom with Douglas Sills re-creating his role and with Amy Bodnar as Marguerite and William Paul Michals as Chauvelin. Sills was replaced by Robert Patteri and finally Ron Bohmer.
It has also been produced by the Japanese Takarazuka Revue, which had previously commissioned Never Say Goodbye from Frank Wildhorn in 2006, under the guidance of Wildhorn himself. Wildhorn also penned two additional songs exclusively for the Takarazuka production of the show, "A Piece of Courage" and "Days of Glory". The show ran from June to October 2008 and was performed by the group's Star Troupe. It starred Kei Aran as Percy, Asuka Tono as Marguerite, and Reon Yuzuki as Chauvelin. It was performed again by the Revue from April to June 2010, this time by the Moon Troupe. Hiromu Kiriya and Yuki Aono starred as Percy and Marguerite, respectively, with Masaki Ryuu and Rio Asumi double-cast as Chauvelin.
- Concept Album (1992)
- Features Chuck Wagner as Percy, Linda Eder as Marguerite and David Clemmons as Chauvelin. Orchestrations on this album are more contemporary versions than are found in other recordings of the show. Songs that are exclusive to this release are: "Home Again," "Marguerite" (Substituted later for "Where's The Girl?"), "Now When The Rain Falls," "Our Separate Ways" and "There Never Was A Time."
- Original Broadway Cast Album (1998)
- Features Douglas Sills as Percy, Christine Andreas as Marguerite and Terrence Mann as Chauvelin. This recording has songs from the first version of the Broadway production which had some major alterations later on.
- Encore! Album (1999)
- Features the same cast as the OBC Album. Only four songs were re-recorded for this album. Rex Smith recorded "Where's The Girl" and "Falcon In The Dive" while Rachel York sings "Storybook" and "I'll Forget You." Also included are two songs from the concept album, "You Are My Home" and "Only Love."
- German Highlights (2003)
- Features Christoph Goetten as Percy, Ann-Christin Elverum as Marguerite and Christopher Murray as Chauvelin.
- See: http://www.castalbums.org/recordings/5205
- Austrian Highlights (2007)
- See: http://www.castalbums.org/recordings/7787
- Norwegian Cast (2008)
- See: http://www.castalbums.org/recordings/12632
- Pre-Broadway Demo (1996)
- Features Chuck Wagner as Percy, Linda Eder as Marguerite and Michael Lanning as Chauvelin. Similar to the concept recording above but with a few new songs and orchestrations that aren't in the contemporary style that the concept recording featured. Rob Evan and others also sang on this demo. The one song exclusive to this release is "High Time."
- See: http://www.castalbums.org/recordings/6619
- Hungarian Promo (2007)
- See: http://www.castalbums.org/recordings/6802
The following is the current version, The Scarlet Pimpernel 4.0.
- Act 1
The play opens at La Comédie Française, an elegant theatre where Marguerite St. Just is performing in her final show ("Storybook"). As she announces to the crowd her marriage to wealthy English aristocrat Sir Percy Blakeney, Citizen Chauvelin, a fanatical agent of the French republican revolutionaries, closes the theatre before the performance is finished. Percy, Marguerite, and her brother, Armand, leave for England, and Chauvelin oversees the execution of the Marquis de St.-Cyr by guillotine in the miserable streets of Paris ("Madame Guillotine").
Percy and Marguerite wed in England ("You Are My Home"). However, on the night of their wedding, Percy learns that his wife betrayed the Marquis de St.-Cyr, his friend, to the revolutionary government ("Wedding Dance"). Heartbroken, Percy is torn between his love for Marguerite and the knowledge of what she has done ("Prayer"). The Blakeneys' marriage grows cold.
Percy determines to make amends for his friend's death by saving other innocents from the guillotine. He takes on the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel and convinces some of his friends (subsequently called "bounders") to join him in his daring rescue attempts; Armand insists on being included ("Into the Fire"). The band pretend to be inane fops, effectively throwing off any suspicions about the identity of the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Under Percy's strict orders, Marguerite is told nothing of this.
Over the next five weeks, the League rescues many potential victims of the guillotine in Paris ("The Rescue"). The furious Robespierre orders Chauvelin to discover the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel with the help of a Belgian spy named Grappin (Percy in disguise). Frustrated, Chauvelin vows to succeed ("Falcon in the Dive").
Back in England, Marie, Marguerite's old costume designer and best friend, has come to the Blakeney estate and is painting Percy's portrait. The Blakeneys' maids gossip about the Scarlet Pimpernel with Percy, who continues his foppish act ("Scarlet Pimpernel Transition"). Marguerite cannot understand how Percy is so drastically different from the man whom she married ("When I Look At You").
Informed that she has a visitor in the garden, Marguerite goes outside. Percy looks out at her in awe, yet remains confused about how he should act around her ("When I Look At You (Reprise)"). Marguerite's visitor turns out to be Chauvelin, who attempts to convince her to join him in his mission to unmask the Pimpernel, as the French believe he is a member of the Blakeneys' circle. Percy joins the conversation and perplexes Chauvelin with his ridiculous ways. When Percy leaves, Chauvelin tries to remind Marguerite of the fiery passion they once shared for the Revolution and each other ("Where's the Girl?"). Marguerite rejects Chauvelin's advances and sends him away.
Armand, just returned from a trip for the League, tells Marguerite that he is going on another trip, this time to France. She becomes upset because she believes that Armand is putting himself in danger--and because he is the only one whom Marguerite feels truly loves her. Marguerite begs Armand to stay, but after trying to comfort her, he leaves, taking Marie back to Paris with him to assist the League ("You Are My Home (Reprise)").
Percy tells his remaining men that the Prince of Wales, suspicious of their trips to France, wants to meet with them. To allay the Prince's suspicions, Percy shows the League how it is a man's duty to dress elegantly and flamboyantly, and they all display the latest fashion ("The Creation of Man"). At the palace, the League convinces the Prince that they have nothing to do with the Pimpernel's activities.
Chauvelin arrives to meet with the Prince but is brushed aside so that the League can help the Prince select his attire for the royal ball that night. Having received a note from Chauvelin, Marguerite meets him the palace, and Chauvelin once again enlists her aid. Armand has been captured in France, and Chauvelin threatens to have him guillotined if Marguerite refuses to help find the Pimpernel ("Marguerite's Dilemma"). Both Marguerite and Chauvelin wonder if they can trust each other; Percy finds them talking and wonders if he, too, can trust his wife ("The Riddle").
- Act 2
At the Prince's ball, Percy and the other guests discuss the Pimpernel, who they all know is there that evening ("The Scarlet Pimpernel"). Percy then recites a poem he has created in honor of the Pimpernel, and the guests join in ("They Seek Him Here").
Marguerite, desperate, convinces one of Percy's men to ask the Pimpernel to meet her on the footbridge at one o'clock ("The Gavotte"). She informs Chauvelin of the plan and goes to the footbridge. Percy comes but remains hidden in the shadows, keeping his identity concealed. Marguerite tells him of Chauvelin's plans and explains that she betrayed the Marquis de St.-Cyr under coercion. Torn, Marguerite begs the Pimpernel to escape before Chauvelin arrives, but the Pimpernel promises to save Armand and sends Marguerite away. Overjoyed, Percy now understands why he has loved Marguerite all along--and that she has always remained the same ("She Was There"). Chauvelin arrives, but Percy's antics fluster him into leaving without discovering the Pimpernel's identity. The League then sets out for France to save Armand.
Still unaware of the Pimpernel's identity, Marguerite does the same. Disguised as a tart, Marguerite attempts to uncover information about her brother, but she is quickly recognized and apprehended by Chauvelin ("Storybook (Reprise)"). While Chauvelin admires Marguerite's courageous efforts, he is angry that she was defying his threats, and he sends her to prison with Armand.
Grappin and Chauvelin plot to have Armand lead them to the secret harbor that the League uses, where they can capture the entire group. Grappin tries to convince Chauvelin to let him dispose of Marguerite, but Chauvelin orders him to stick to the plan. Alone, Chauvelin rages over his failure to win Marguerite back ("Where's the Girl? (Reprise)").
The League meets with Percy, Marie, and Tussaud (Marie's fiancé) in Paris to try to find a way to save Marguerite and Armand. Convinced that the situation is almost hopeless, Percy wants to go alone, but the bounders convince him to let them help.
In prison, Armand assures Marguerite that the Pimpernel will save them. Refusing to believe it, Marguerite mourns the loss of Percy and of her life ("I'll Forget You"). However, the two are "rescued" by "League members" and set off for the League's harbor at the coastal town of Michelon, having no idea that Chauvelin is on their trail. On the way, Marguerite learns her husband's secret identity.
At Michelon, Marguerite and Armand discover that a guillotine has been erected at the harbor. Chauvelin and his soldiers arrive, and when Marguerite desperately calls for Percy to run, Chauvelin finally begins to suspect who his adversary truly is.
Grappin turns up and informs Chauvelin that the Pimpernel--who Grappin confirms is Sir Percy Blakeney--is heading for Calais. Chauvelin sends most of his men off to intercept the Pimpernel but keeps some soldiers to assist him. When Percy accidentally lets his identity slip, he and Chauvelin duel. Marguerite steps in several times to help Percy, but Chauvelin still wins ("The Duel"). Percy is then immediately guillotined.
In triumph, Chauvelin sends messengers to retrieve the rest of his soldiers and carry the news to Robespierre. However, to Chauvelin's utter bewilderment, Percy stands up from the guillotine unharmed. The head that fell is, in fact, a wax one that Marie (who, having married Tussaud, is revealed to be Marie Tussaud) created to fool Chauvelin. The remaining soldiers turn out to be the League in disguise.
Percy's men tie up Chauvelin and leave him with planted evidence incriminating him as the Scarlet Pimpernel. Percy, Marguerite, Armand, and the bounders then set off for England. Marguerite and Percy confide in each other the true love that they have always had for each other ("Into the Fire (Reprise)").
- Marguerite St. Just**
- Percy Blakeney** (Grappin & The Scarlet Pimpernel)
- Armand St. Just**
- Marie Grosholtz**
- St. Cyr*
- Mercier (aide to Chauvelin)
- Coupeau (aide to Chauvelin)
- Jessup (Butler to Percy)
- Ozzy* (Bounder)
- Dewhurst* (Bounder)
- Elton* (Bounder)
- Farleigh* (Bounder)
- Hal* (Bounder)
- Ben* (Bounder)
- Prince of Wales*
- Sentry (Royal Palace)
- SATB Chorus - Cupids of the Comedie Française, Soldiers, Prisoners, Paris Street Mob, Royal Ball Guests, Six Girl Servants at the Blakeney Estate
(**) five principal vocal parts
(*) eight sub-principal vocal parts
However, changes were made to the song list after a number of previews on Broadway:
(Roles are listed in order of importance)
SP 1.0 : The Original Broadway Cast (Minskoff)
SP 2.0 : The Replacement Broadway Cast (Minskoff)
SP 3.0 : The Neil Simon Theatre Broadway Cast
SP 4.0 : The National Tour
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
|1998||Tony Award||Best Musical||Nominated|
|Best Book of a Musical||Nan Knighton||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Douglas Sills||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Nominated|
|Outstanding Music||Frank Wildhorn||Nominated|
|Theatre World Award||Douglas Sills||Won|
Notes and references
- McKinley, Jesse."On Stage and Off:'Jekyll and Hyde' Among Closings",The New York Times, November 10, 2000
- Taylor, Markland, "Legit Reviews: Road; The Scarlet Pimpernel", Variety, February 28, 2000 - March 5, 2000, p. 58
- Jones, Kenneth."Douglas Sills Will Buckle His Swash For Scarlet Pimpernel Tour in 2000", playbill.com, December 22, 1999
- Official website of The Scarlet Pimpernel musical
- The Scarlet Pimpernel at the Internet Broadway Database
- Official website for the 2010 Takarazuka production (Japanese)
- Composer Frank Wildhorn's website
- Plot and production information at Tams-Witmark
- Into the Fire - The Scarlet Pimpernel