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Broadway at Duke Preview: The Scarlet Pimpernel Is A Delightfully Droll Musical

October 26, 2002 - Durham, NC:


Broadway at Duke will present Mainstage Artists Management and Candlewood International's non-equity National Tour of The Scarlet Pimpernel (http://www.thepimpernel.com/ [inactive 1/04]), with the magnificent original touring set and simply gorgeous Broadway costumes, next Friday, Nov. 1, in Page Auditorium. This swashbuckling musical comedy features soaring melodies by composer Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde, The Civil War) and a witty book and delightfully droll lyrics by Nan Knighton (Saturday Night Fever).

The Scarlet Pimpernel, which opened on Broadway in November 1997, vividly retells the classic suspense story from Hungarian-born English author and dramatist Baroness Emmuska Orczy's 1904 novel and 1905 drama (co-written with her husband, Montagu W. Barstow). The Scarlet Pimpernel is an exciting tale of espionage, adventure, and romance set against the ominous background of the French Revolution during the darkest, most bloodthirsty days of the Reign of Terror.

In the touring production that visits Duke University Nov. 1, Rye Mullis, Anne Brummel, and Stephen Brown will star as idealistic English aristocrat Sir Percival Blakeney (a.k.a. "The Scarlet Pimpernel"); his beautiful but mysterious fiancee, well-known French actress and suspected spy Marguerite St. Just; and his implacable nemesis, the utterly ruthless Citizen Chauvelin, who tries to blackmail Marguerite into spying on the English.

Outraged by the escalating atrocities of the French Revolution, Sir Percy and his closest friends secretly form "The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel," don disguises, and journey to France incognito to rescue innocent aristocrats from the guillotine. To avoid suspicion, and to deceive the indignant French authorities and the increasingly suspicious British authorities, the League's members pretend to be fop's fops at home. Outwardly, they are the vainest, silliest, and most decadent clotheshorses in all of England. But, secretly, they are England's bravest, most freedom-loving citizens.

The Scarlet Pimpernel and his colleagues employ ingenious guerilla tactics (i.e., they hit the enemy hard, then vanish) so successfully that they thwart the Revolution's horrifying campaign to exterminate the French aristocracy. Soon, the Pimpernel and his cohorts have all of France in an uproar. A famous excerpt from the novel reads: "We seek him here, we seek him there,/Those Frenchies seek him everywhere./Is he in heaven--is he in hell?/That damned elusive Pimpernel?"

Michael Sommers of The Star-Ledger of New Jersey called The Scarlet Pimpernel "A lavish musical, blazing with adventure and bursting with resplendent music."

"You will love it! Wow!" wrote Liz Smith in the New York Post, whereas New York Times critic Vincent Canby called The Scarlet Pimpernel "Astonishing! A show that works. A dandy of a Pimpernel."

Broadway at Duke presents The Scarlet Pimpernel Friday, Nov. 1, at Page Auditorium on Duke University's West Campus in Durham, North Carolina. $30-$38 ($13-$21 Duke students). 919/684-4444. http://events.duke.edu/box_office/ or http://www.duke.edu/web/duu/broadway/broadwayevents.htm#pimpernel or http://www.thepimpernel.com/html/prlist-nonequity.shtml [inactive 1/04] .

& 10/31/02 MINI-PREVIEW The Scarlet Pimpernel (Broadway at Duke, 7 p.m. Nov. 1 in Page Auditorium in Durham, NC) starts an hour earlier than normal. The non-equity National Tour of this swashbuckling musical by composer Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde) and librettist/lyricist of Nan Knighton (Saturday Night Fever) stars Rye Mullis as dashing English aristocrat Sir Percival Blakeney (a.k.a. "The Scarlet Pimpernel"); Anne Brummel as his beautiful but mysterious fiancée, well-known French actress and suspected spy Marguerite St. Just; and Stephen Brown as his implacable nemesis, the utterly ruthless French revolutionary Citizen Chauvelin, who tries to blackmail Marguerite into spying on the English.. For details, see http://www.duke.edu/web/duu/broadway/broadwayevents.htm#pimpernel or http://www.thepimpernel.com/html/prlist-nonequity.shtml [inactive 1/04]. For tickets, call 919/684-4444 or visit http://events.duke.edu/box_office/.