Friday, October 2, 2009

The Scarlet Pimpernel-- A Multimedia Review

This was the absolutely beautifully brightly stress-free part of this last weekend-- seeing The Scarlet Pimpernel at Hale Centre Theatre!!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the music-- I'm totally wearing out the cd. Or I would be, if I hadn't just ripped the whole thing to my computer. But still. Seriously, it wouldn't be at all shocking to me if my kids started singing about the guillotine around the house.

This was my chance to finally see it live.

If you live in Utah (well, northern at any rate) and haven't been to Hale Centre, you really really need to! They do a fabulous job.

The woman who played Marguerite was FANTASTIC! Though sadly it seemed like the leading men fell slightly short. Percy Blakeney was played by a great actor who clearly has a great voice, but his acting got in the way of his singing a bit, which just didn't work for me. The real sadness, however, was Chauvelin, whose singing just kind of... fell flat. Don't get me wrong, he had a fine voice... but the emotion and depth just wasn't there.

Chauvelin is evil, don't get me wrong. But there's such a richness, depth and passion to his character-- especially in the musical! He has some of the most passionate, gut-wrenching songs in the whole play! Now I'm not saying the guy was a bad actor, I just think he may have been miscast. Or I caught him on a really bad day. Heaven knows the pollen in the air is killing me. Maybe he has allergies.

Now in the movie, Chauvelin was played by Ian McKellan. Can't go wrong there, right? Though sadly it's not a musical. I love musicals. Raised on 'em. (Though my parents did get rid of Grease after my 7-ish year old sister was singing "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" at the top of her lungs while riding her bike around the neighborhood.)

Anyway-- I did like Jane Seymour as Marguerite, though if I were trying to think of who to cast she wouldn't spring to mind. And I quite like Anthony Andrews as Blakeney.

It's interesting to compare the movie and the musical. In the musical, how and why and when Blakeney becomes the Scarlet Pimpernel is a little more clear than in the movie, while in the movie (I think it's in the movie... I guess it could have been the book) Marguerite running off to France makes more sense.

The movie and musical combine elements from more than one of Baroness Orczy's books. There's a whole slew of Pimpernel books. I've read at the very least... 2 of them. They start to run together, but I enjoyed them.

It's been a while, so I can't speak to how clean they are. I don't remember anything major. I wouldn't, however, recommend taking any child under 12 or even 14 to the play. (I was amazed at how many young kids were in the audience!)

All in all, I recommend the books, movie and play!

Really, I do. The music in the play is brilliant. There's more than one soundtrack option, and while the Original Broadway Cast Recording is my preferred listening option, you should really try the The Scarlet Pimpernel (1991 Concept Cast) (also sometimes called the Miami Cast, I believe) which has a couple of songs that didn't make it into the final production. "Now When the Rain Falls" is a personal favorite.

(This could be the longest review I've ever written.)


  1. Grin. Well done. I've never actually been to Hale Center Theatre, though I live very close to it. And I've never seen the Pimpernel musical. Or heard the music. Somehow it just slipped under my radar. I love the movie. Sounds like I really need to check out the musical.

  2. I saw this at HCT several years ago and loved it! But, I just can't ever picture anyone but Anthony Andrews as Percy. He was SO good.

  3. Gasp! Angie! You break my heart. You assignment for the coming week is to get the soundtrack from the library and listen to it at least 5 times. :D I know they have it... that's the copy I was wearing out before getting my own.

    Melissa, I know. I think that was part of my problem with Percy. Why oh why couldn't they have made the movie a musical?!

  4. "You assignment" sigh

    Me say much gooder English.


  5. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this musical too! :) Really. Seen it a couple of times. Love the book, love the movie. But the musical, it's the best.

  6. Musicals are always the best, aren't they? :D

    Off to listen to Madame Guillotine again....

  7. I was introduced to Scarlet Pimpernel in college. I adore the movie with Jane Seymour and revisit it often :)

  8. I love that movie. It's the best. I saw the musical last fall when my local high school put it on. It was awesome. I would like to be able to see it at Hale though. Is is still running?

    I am about to read the book as well. It is sitting on my shelf from the library. I am excited to see how they all compare.

  9. Bookshelf-- it's been forever since I've seen it, so I put it on hold at the library-- hold # 32!!

    Amy-- sadly, no. We actually caught it on the last day. Next year's lineup looks awesome though! Trying to narrow down what I want to see since we can usually only afford to see one!

  10. I grew up watching the movie (a classic for my parents, who went on one of their first dates...) & read the book for 7th or 8th grade English, so I have a long-standing love for this story. I finally got to see the musical, after eying it for a couple years. SO great! Great music (now, I'm eying the soundtrack so I can enjoy it nonstop) and spectacular sets.

    Some people said they wanted Marguerite to be more "feisty." What did you think?

  11. I thought she was really good in the production we saw. Didn't feel like she could have been much more feisty without it being overdone!

  12. I love HCT. We actually have season tickets for Orem that my husband's parents give us every year for Christmas. I haven't seen The Scarlet Pimpernel yet but they will be doing it next year in Orem. I'm looking forward to it.

  13. That has got to be the coolest Christmas gift ever.