Scarlet Pimpernel

Discussion of musicals other than Les Misérables.
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between4walls
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Scarlet Pimpernel

Postby between4walls » Sat Apr 12, 2014 4:05 pm

Recently bought an album of this and have become obsessed. So: did anyone here see it on Broadway or anywhere else? What did you think?

I was really wary of having Chauvelin be in love with Marguerite (why isn't politics a good enough motive for antagonism!) but "Where's the Girl?" is awesome and won me over to that change. Also love "The Riddle," "Falcon in the Dive," "She Was There," and "Into the Fire."
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Re: Scarlet Pimpernel

Postby deHavilland » Sat Apr 12, 2014 8:10 pm

Definitely a fan! I saw it in its second iteration on Broadway, after the production team changed over and they did some serious rewrites of it but it was Danica Enjolras and La Pamplemousse off of the old Frenchboys Cafe that really got me into it. I wouldn't consider myself to have ever been a member of the League or anything, though.

I think Chauvelin being in love with Marguerite is one of the things that rescues his character from being overtly compared to Javert. Regardless of the fact that there are a number of pretty substantial differences that firmly set them apart from one another, the fact that Chauvelin's motivation and means of getting what he wants is largely set in his relationship with Marguerite -- at least as far as the musical is concerned -- is a pretty decisive element. You should consider reading the novel if you're at all interested in the characters/plot and not just the musical elements of the story. There's a lot of things I like better in the books than on stage.
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Re: Scarlet Pimpernel

Postby between4walls » Sat Apr 12, 2014 8:43 pm

I'd read the book and a couple of sequels before I got the album, which is why I was worried about it being made into a love triangle in the musical. But it works really well, much better than I thought it would.

I'm more a fan of the musical as a musical than the book as a book (hello bad writing and reactionary politics!), but there are things I like better in the books, too. The ending twist/disguise of the first book is pretty brilliant in context even though there are obvious reasons to not do that in a modern adaptation. What did you like better in the book?

What were the major rewrites that they did going into the second iteration?
Here day embraces night, and says: I will die with you and you will be reborn with me. From the heavy embrace of all desolations springs faith.

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Re: Scarlet Pimpernel

Postby deHavilland » Sat Apr 12, 2014 9:14 pm

I like the structure of the book better than I do the musical, I think. The musical very much plays out with its focus on Percy in a very linear fashion. Look, this is Sir Percy. He is upset by the French Revolution. He becomes the Scarlet Pimpernel! He does his best to help save the day! He finds himself in trouble! Musical climax! The end!

You mention the twist in the novel, and that's what I love best about it. It feels like there's actual revelations to come about in the way the book is laid out. The answers aren't tipped into the reader's lap off the top as they are in the musical.

What changed between SP1 and SP2? Well, they restaged the entire thing and fussed around with the order of the scenes and songs. They brought Storybook forward and turned it into the opening number with Marguerite performing it as her last performance at the Comedie Francaise. Vivez, Only Love, Believe, Lullaby and You Are My Home (as it was sung between Armand and Marguerite) were songs that all got the axe. You Are My Home became a Marguerite and Percy song for their wedding, replacing Believe, where I'll Forget You replaced Lullaby and the original You Are My Home in the prison scene.

Basically every major musical number was reorganized or rechoreographed and a lot of the dialogue was restructured, especially the sequence following Into the Fire, where the League makes their first set of rescues, the Prince's Ball, and the duel from the second act (which now includes Marguerite fighting rather than standing on the sidelines).

Grappin as a character was introduced in SP1 as Grappin and the reveal of who he really is was something that came about at the end of the show, whereas in SP2 we're shown who he is from the very beginning an there is no reveal.

And in SP2, the League sings a reprise of Into the Fire to a disheartened Percy, which is actually one of my favorite parts of the show. So that's change I can believe in. ;)

Also at the time, Christine Andreas and Terrance Mann were replaced with Rachel York and Rex Smith and the music for Chauvelin was transposed up to suit Rex Smith.
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Re: Scarlet Pimpernel

Postby Acaila » Sun Apr 13, 2014 3:44 am

I got into Pimpernel from the Anthony Andrews/Jane Seymour/Ian McKellen movie, so I've always thought of it as a love triangle!
Tend to prefer the first iteration, though I probably just have a bit more familiarity with that. It's a bit silly and sometimes hammy, but I do enjoy the show.
And of course Only Love later got recycled in Rudolf: Affaire Mayerling in order that I could actually sing along to some of that. :D
Would agree with the structure of the book being better. To be fair, the revelation is, I believe quite well known (certainly I've had "Who is Percy Blakeney better known as?" in quizzes before), so maybe they thought there wouldn't be much suspense in that?
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Re: Scarlet Pimpernel

Postby MmeBahorel » Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:58 am

Pimpernel is such a fun show. I saw the tour 4 times and only missed closing because of where closing was (getting to Ann Arbor without a car - since I was too young to rent one - just could not happen).

It's not a brilliant show, necessarily, but it's so much fun, Marguerite is a great role, and I almost certainly had a crush on Chauvelin because he gets most of the best songs (and Where's the Girl is incredibly hot).

One thing deHavvy left out is that Madame Guillotine went from being an ensemble number to being a Chauvelin number, foregrounding his alliances firmly in the Terror (but that may have come later - I haven't listened to those tapes in ages).

The trouble with this show is that it ended up going to four different versions: 1.0 was the original (with cast album), 2.0 was the massive rewriting, 3.0 had additional rewrites - went on minitour then back to Broadway with Ron Bohmer in place of Sills (Marc Kudisch as Chauvelin, which maybe should have happened from the beginning), then 4.0 was the tour, which had yet more staging changes to accommodate the varying houses and I think some additional edits in the script. It was never really the mess that the history of rewrites makes it sound, but it and the Sondheim show now known as Wise Guys that was in very public development right after it really made show development highly visible to a large number of people. Going from v1.0 to v2.0 is the sort of massive rewrite that usually happens after out of town tryouts or, better, a regional premiere (like Jane Eyre between Toronto and La Jolla), rather than on Broadway after the Tony awards. It would have been incredibly public even if we were just reliant on the NY papers, but throw in the development of the internet and a bunch of us got a crash course in what it takes to put a musical together.

I wasn't one of the Leaguers, really, but I hung around a bit and I was very attached to the tour cast. I flew to Arizona to catch a couple of my favourite ensemble boys in their final weekend and was lucky enough to see one of them go on as Percy, having already seen his Chauvelin. Still very pleased I made that trip.
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Re: Scarlet Pimpernel

Postby Acaila » Sun Apr 13, 2014 3:17 pm

Oh man, I forgot (more likely blanked it out intentionally) they changed Madame Guillotine. I really really hated that change.
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Re: Scarlet Pimpernel

Postby Rachelle » Thu May 08, 2014 1:09 pm

WhaT!! They changed Madame Guillotine into a solo number... so wrong.
I also love this show. It's on my "on repeat" playlist on my ipod right now. I also love the movies, the tv series and book.
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Re: Scarlet Pimpernel

Postby Acaila » Fri May 09, 2014 11:44 am

I think you can hear it that way on the Encores recording? I might be wrong, but I know it's like that on one version I had, and I think that's the one I copied to my phone thinking it was the OBC, listened to it on my commute and went "WTF IS THIS?!"
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Re: Scarlet Pimpernel

Postby Prisoner 24653 » Fri May 09, 2014 12:32 pm

The Encore recording just reused the OBC track for that song... I'm pretty sure the only songs that were redone with the new cast were "Storybook," "Falcon in the Dive," "Where's the Girl?", and "I'll Forget You", plus a couple of bonus tracks (as it was mainly to showcase Rex Smith and Rachel York). Not sure which official recordings have used the Chauvelin almost-solo version of "Madame Guillotine", but yeah... I don't like it much.

The German and Austrian productions made it work, though, by keeping the orchestrations close to the OBC and giving the ensemble a more significant role, even though Chauvelin still starts it off. (Plus, in the German album, he's played by Chris Murray, so hey! :D )

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Re: Scarlet Pimpernel

Postby Acaila » Fri May 09, 2014 1:30 pm

Gosh, Chris Murray gets everywhere doesn't he! Though I can imagine him making a good Chauvelin.
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Re: Scarlet Pimpernel

Postby 23623 » Thu Nov 10, 2016 5:47 am

I'm really sorry for digging up an old thread and...being stupid.

I knew that the Encore album just reused the OBC songs so I assumed that the cast was exactly the same. And here's the funny thing. While watching a video of SP 2.0 last night, I suddenly found that the Chauvelin 2.0 sounds exactly the same as the Chauvelin in Encore and it was not even funny, because seriously, that guy sounds like Terrence Mann even more than Terrence himself does. The similarity was so distracting that I had to stop the video and google SP Encore. And this was how I came to the shocking realization that the Chauvelin in Encore was exactly the guy in SP 2.0, not Terrence Mann! This also explains why it seems to me that the OBC Javert and Encore-Chauvelin are two completely different people...because they indeed are. I'm very sorry Terrence Mann this is so stupid. But what was the cast of the Encore album actually? Need to make sure that I'm fangirling the correct person. :mrgreen:

In fact the Encore album is the only thing I have of English SP. I've watched the full show in German but never in English. Not because I understand German though. I've read the book so I more or less know what's going on. So could anyone please explain the difference between German and English version to me?

Another funny thing: when I read the book I firmly supported Percy/Marguerite, but then Chris Murray single-handedly converted me into a Chauvelin/Marguerite shipper (and a fangirl of him :P ). Now I don't think I'm able to ship Percy/Marguerite again even if I reread the novel. Can't unsee what I've seen in the musical. :mrgreen:
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Re: Scarlet Pimpernel

Postby CC21106 » Thu Nov 10, 2016 4:13 pm

Re, Scarlet Pimpernel. I've read the book (a long time ago, don't remember much about it, need to reread) but didn't know it had been turned into a show.
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Re: Scarlet Pimpernel

Postby Acaila » Thu Nov 10, 2016 6:55 pm

It's a good wee show, but not amazing. Frank Wildhorn is kinda like the American ALW - lots of big bombastic numbers but not necessarily so much in the way of substance. Still, there are some good songs in it. Worth taking a look at it though if you liked the book.

Alas 23623 I don't have the Encore recording so I'm not sure about the cast - I always thought it was just the OBC with a few extra tracks. Never seen Chris Murray do it though - considering how much I love his sassy Javert, I feel like I would enjoy it.

I snuggled up with the Anthony Andrews movie recently - still the best adaptation <3
Revolution: like Christmas come early only with more death
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"She's basically Enjolras meets Amy Pond"
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Re: Scarlet Pimpernel

Postby 23623 » Thu Nov 10, 2016 9:23 pm

Acaila wrote:It's a good wee show, but not amazing. Frank Wildhorn is kinda like the American ALW - lots of big bombastic numbers but not necessarily so much in the way of substance.

Yes! However I have no idea why I like Wildhorn but dislike ALW even though they're essentially the same type. I guess it's because Wildhorn musicals have interesting stories at least? (Yes I'm looking at you, CATS) :mrgreen:

SP confession time: Into the Fire is actually one of my least favorite songs in SP. I had really high expectation of it. I thought it would be like the SP version of DYHTPS but in fact it isn't. I think it is exactly one of those "big bombastic numbers but not necessarily so much in the way of substance". And its lyrics is really terrible. :(

Acaila wrote:I always thought it was just the OBC with a few extra tracks. Never seen Chris Murray do it though - considering how much I love his sassy Javert, I feel like I would enjoy it.

That was what I thought too! But obviously I was wrong...

Well...believe it or not, I actually thought Murray was miscast as Chauvelin at first! In terms of appearance he looks more like Percy than Chauvelin. And the Percy in the first video I watched is really short. He's about the same height as Marguerite. I'm sure someone who has read the book but never seen the musical would definitely guess that Murray is Percy and that guy is Chauvelin. But these guys really did a great job in acting and now I can't picture them doing it the other way around!

You will like Murray as Chauvelin if you like him as Javert. I predicted that I would like him as Javert because I like him as Chauvelin...and I really do. Same analogy works for you too. :wink:
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