The Scarlet Pimpernel is a musical that premiered on Broadway in 1997 with music by Frank Wildhorn and a book and lyrics by Nan Knighton. It is based on the 1905 stage play and book of the same name.
Appalled at the frequent beheadings in Paris, a group of English nobles cross the channel and use disguises , ruses, and wit to foil the French army and rescue the innocents who are sentenced to death. While on English soil, the "League of the Scarlet Pimpernel" pose as the fanciest of fops to avoid suspicion. The group's leader - The Scarlet Pimpernel himself - is none other than Sir Percival "Percy" Blakeney, Baronet. Percy has married a French actress, Marguerite St. Just, who has a shadowy past including an affair with the Pimpernel's arch-nemesis, Chauvelin. To raise the stakes even higher, Chauvelin - an agent of the French Republic - blackmails Marguerite into helping him discover the identity of the Pimpernel.
Original Production Edit
Development on The Scarlet Pimpernel began in 1989. In 1992, a concept album was produced which starred Chuck Wagner as Percy/The Scarlet Pimpernel, Linda Eder as Marguerite, Dave Clemmons as Chauvelin, and Philip Hoffman as Tussaud.
In 1996, pre-broadway demo recordings were made with Chuck Wagner as Percy/The Scarlet Pimpernel, Linda Eder as Marguerite, and Michael Lanning as Chauvelin.
This led to the Broadway production opening at the Minskoff Theatre on November 9th, 1997. The cast included Douglas Sills as Percy/The Scarlet Pimpernel, Christine Andreas as Marguerite, and Terrance Mann as Chauvelin. In early 1998, a cast album was released with the original Broadway cast.
Reception of the musical was not good, and in the latter half of 1998, new producers temporarily closed the show and reworked it. The new version, dubbed SP 2.0, opened November 4th, 1998. It starred Douglas Sills as Percy/The Scarlet Pimpernel, Rachel York as Marguerite, and Rex Smith as Chauvelin. In early 1999, an album titled The Scarlet Pimpernel Encore! was released. This album featured 4 re-recorded songs with York and Smith and songs carried over from the OBCA, concept album, and the pre-broadway demos. This was to simulate an album version of SP 2.0, for there wasn't enough budget to record a full album.
This was not enough to save the show. SP 2.0 closed on May 20th, 1999. New producers came in and shuffled things around further, creating SP 3.0, which went on a mini-tour over the summer of 1999. The cast for this tour included Ron Bohmer as Percy/The Scarlet Pimpernel, Carolee Carmello as Marguerite, and Marc Kudisch. The tour stopped in Dallas, Texas, Houston, Texas, and Atlanta, Georgia before returning to Broadway. This time, the show opened at the Neil Simon Theatre on September 10th, 1999, and featured the same principle cast as the tour. SP 3.0 closed on Broadway on January 2nd, 2000.
Following the Broadway run, a US Tour began on February 20th, 2000. The cast included Douglas Sills as Percy/The Scarlet Pimpernel, Amy Bodnar as Marguerite, and William Michals as Chauvelin. Later in the tour, Douglas Sills was replaced with Robert Patteri, who was later replaced with Ron Bohmer. Following the tour's closing on April 1st, 2001, rights for the musical became available.
Later Productions Edit
A non-equity tour began on September 27th, 2002, and ended on November 21st of the same year. The cast included Rye Mullis as Percy/The Scarlet Pimpernel, Anne Brummel as Marguerite, and Stephen Brown as Chauvelin.
In 2008, the show was produced in Japan by the Takarazuka Revue, with two new songs written for the production. The Takarazuka Revue produced the show again in 2010 and 2017.
In February 2019, the Lincoln Center produced a concert version of The Scarlet Pimpernel. The production starred Tony Yazbeck as Percy/The Scarlet Pimpernel, Laura Osnes as Marguerite, and Norm Lewis as Chauvelin.