Book by Nan Knighton, based on The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. Music by Frank Wildhorn. Lyrics by Nan Knighton. The original Broadway production opened on 9 November 1997 and was directed by Peter Hunt, with choreography by Adam Pelty. The production closed on 2 January 2000, running for a total of 772 performances. The show was revised twice during its run.
Synopsis and Musical Numbers
In May 1794, at the Comédie Francaise in Paris, Marguerite St. Just, performs (STORYBOOK) while Sir Percival Blakeney, a dashing Englishman, and Chauvelin, current leader of the French revolution, look on. At the end of her performance, she announces that she is to marry Sir Percy. The loss of his past love throws Chauvelin into a rage and he declares that the theatre is to be shut down immediately. Marguerite’s assistant Marie protests the closing of the theatre. Chauvelin orders his soldiers to take her off to be guillotined but Percy steps in and warns Chauvelin and his soldiers of an angry mob outside. They rush off, allowing Percy, Marguerite and Marie to escape along with Marie’s fiancé Phillipe, and Marguerite’s brother Armand. In Paris, Chauvelin becomes obsessed with the ideals of the Republic (MADAME GUILLOTINE). In England, Sir Percy and Marguerite marry. After professing their love for each other (YOU ARE MY HOME), Marguerite tries to soften the British crowd and get them to enjoy themselves (WEDDING DANCE). But the happiness of the moment is quickly broken with the secret information that Marguerite betrayed a family friend who has been guillotined in Paris. Percy sends his wife to bed and tries to make sense of his situation (PRAYER). In the morning, he is discovered in the study. He has obviously been up all night formulating a way to right the wrong his wife has committed by recruiting his friends to join him in rescuing the innocent victims of the revolution in France. He will become the Scarlet Pimpernel. “The League” dons disguises and heads for the shores of France (INTO THE FIRE). In Paris, the group is able to pull off a daring rescue, which embarrasses Chauvelin and angers his boss, Robespierre. In a rage, Chauvelin orders his men to track down and capture the Scarlet Pimpernel (THE FALCON IN THE DIVE).
Back in England, Percy returns from his travels. Marguerite is discouraged and saddened by her husband’s change in his attitude towards her and she longs for the man she fell in love with (WHEN I LOOK AT YOU). Armand, her younger brother arrives to join his sister in the England. Unbeknownst to Marguerite, he is recruited to assist the Scarlet Pimpernel in rescuing his innocent countrymen. As Marguerite strolls in the garden, Chauvelin arrives from England to visit his old lover and talk her in to helping him in the revolutionary cause (WHERE’S THE GIRL?). Marguerite refuses and dismisses Chauvelin. In her turmoil she withdraws to her bedroom. Percy, meanwhile, has a quite moment of reflecting upon the woman he fell in love with (YOU ARE MY HOME – REPRISE). In an effort to bolster his men and prepare them for the next dangerous mission, they all gather to dress in their foppiest best for the meeting with the Prince of Wales (THE CREATION OF MAN). Meanwhile, at the Prince’s palace, Chauvelin takes Marguerite aside and informs her that Armand has been capture and is to be guillotined if she does not help him discover the identity of the Pimpernel. The main characters all come to question who is trustworthy and who will betray them (THE RIDDLE).
At the Prince’s ball, all the guests are abuzz about the identity of THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL. Percy enthuses the group in his own ode to the mysterious hero (THEY SEEK HIM HERE). In her own efforts to discover the Pimpernel’s identity, Marguerite pleads with one of Pimpernel’s men to have his leader meet her on the footbridge. The hour approaches one, and we find Marguerite on the footbridge. Percy enters but approaches her from behind, masking his voice and speaking to her as the Pimpernel. She confesses all her mistakes and betrayals have come because Chauvelin has threatened to tell the secrets of her past to her husband. She begs for his help in rescuing her brother but she also realizes that she cannot let Chauvelin catch the Pimepernel on the bridge. Before she can convince him to leave to save himself from discovery, he sends her away. In the solitude Percy celebrates the love he has for his wife (SHE WAS THERE). He rallies his troops for a trip to France after throwing Chauvelin off the track yet again.
After meeting, and outwitting, Chauvelin, Percy rushes off to save Armand. Marguerite also steals away to Paris, where she disguises herself as a barmaid in a local bistro so she can discover where her brother is being held (STORYBOOK – REPRISE). She is apprehended by Chauvelin, who sentences her to the guillotine alongside her brother. Chauvelin now knows that Marguerite will never return to him, and he expresses his rage and frustration at this realization (WHERE’S THE GIRL? – REPRISE). In the secret hideout of the League in a wine cellar deep in Paris, Percy is trying frantically to come up with a scheme to save his wife and her brother, but quickly realizes the odds are completely against him. At this point he tells his friends that he cannot ask them to follow him to what seems like certain death. He hangs his head but his compatriots surround him and express their belief in his cause, letting him know that they will stay with him to support that cause (INTO THE FIRE – REPRISE). At the same time, Marguerite and Armand await their executionare in prison. Marguerite laments that as she faces death, she must try to let go of her love for Percy (I’LL FORGET YOU). Chauvelin has a devious plan of his own though. He is sure the Pimpernel will come to rescue his beautiful prisoner and her brother, so Chauvelin stages an escape, sure that his prisoners will lead him to the Pimpernel. Sure enough, Armand unknowingly leads Chauvelin to the coast where he and Marguerite finally discover that the Pimpernel is indeed Percy, who then arrives just in time to have a final showdown with Chauvelin (THE DUEL). Percy once again outwits Chauvelin, who is left unable to fulfill his quest of capturing the Pimpernel, who escapes once more for the safe shores of England with the woman he loves (BELIEVE / replaced in the revised version with WHEN I LOOK AT YOU – REPRISE).
Purchases from Amazon.com
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: 1. The Scarlet Pimpernel Concept Recording Cast CD. 2. The Scarlet Pimpernel Revised Broadway Cast Recording CD. 3. The Scarlet Pimpernel Karaoke CD. 4. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy Emmuska. 5. The Scarlet Pimpernel – Vocal Selections.