The Scarlet Pimpernel is a musical by composer Frank Wildhorn and lyricist Nan Knighton, based on the novel of the same name by Baroness Orczy. The show is set in England and France during the French Revolution. It opened on Broadway on 7 October 1997 with Douglas Sills in the lead role of Sir Percy, Christine Andreas playing Marguerite, and Terrence Mann in the role of the villain, Chauvelin.
The Scarlet Pimpernel opened on 7 October 1997 at the Minskoff Theater. There have been a total of three Broadway incarnations of the show - the second, in 1998, starred Sills, Rex Smith and Rachel York, and the third, in 1999 starred Ron Bohmer, Marc Kudisch and Carolee Carmello - and its final Broadway run closed on 2 January 2000. The National Tour ran from 20 February 2000 to 1 April 2001. At present, productions are put on by various groups throughout the United States.
The musical has also been produced abroad in Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Ireland, Canada and Mexico, as well as Malta. Groups continue to mount productions of the show internationally.
Available recordings include the 1992 concept album, which starred Chuck Wagner in the title role, Linda Eder as Marguerite, and Dave Clemmons as Chauvelin, the 1998 Original Broadway Cast recording, and the 1999 "Encore!," containing songs from the 1998 recording as well as recordings featuring more recent performers and tracks from the concept album. There is also a German-language highlights album.
Later productions of the show portray a slightly different sequence of events from the original Broadway production. However, the basic storyline remains the same. The story is set during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution. Sir Percy Blakeney, a wealthy English aristocrat, has married the beautiful French actress Marguerite St. Just. However, on the night of their wedding, Percy learns that his wife betrayed his friend the Marquis de St. Cyr to the Revolutionary government, ultimately leading to the Marquis' execution by the guillotine. The Blakeneys' marriage grows cold and Percy determines to make amends for his friend's death by saving other innocents from the guillotine. Thus, 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. The band pretend to be inane fops, effectively throwing off any suspicions about the identity of the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel.
Soon, the French agent Chauvelin is sent to England with orders to discover the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel. He enlists the aid of Marguerite, threatening to have her brother Armand, also a member of the League, guillotined if she refuses.
Marguerite manages to have a conversation with the Scarlet Pimpernel, who remains hidden in the shadows, keeping his identity concealed. She tells him of Chauvelin's plans and explains that she betrayed the Marquis de St. Cyr under coercion. The Scarlet Pimpernel, Percy, sets out for France in order 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 is quickly recognized and apprehended by Chauvelin. Marguerite finds her brother Armand in prison, but Chauvelin allows the two to escape, knowing that Armand will head for the hide-out of the Scarlet Pimpernel. They find him in a town on the French coast, where Marguerite learns her husband's true identity. Chauvelin confronts the Scarlet Pimpernel but is outwitted once again. Percy, Marguerite, and Armand escape safely to England.