The Broadway company of The Scarlet Pimpernel was told the week Oct. 25 that the swashbuckling musical is expected to close in January 2000 to embark on a national tour, according to a source close to the cast.
No official public announcement has been made by producer Radio City Entertainment, however. The Broadway physical production is certainly tour-ready: Prior to reopening on Broadway Sept. 10, the show played Dallas, Houston and Atlanta with a smaller cast and leads different from the show that played the Minskoff Theatre since fall 1997.
It was not clear if the touring company would be the same as the New York cast. Leading lady Carolee Carmello, who plays Marguerite, told Playbill On-Line earlier in the year that life on the road was not her wish unless the circumstances kept her close to her family.
When Pimpernel relighted on Broadway Sept. 10, it was considered a "return" rather than a "reopening." This is the third Broadway version of the musical by lyricist-librettist Nan Knighton and composer Frank Wildhorn. The Peter Hunt-staged show opened at the Minskoff in fall 1997 to poor reviews, was bought by new producers Radio City and Ted Forstmann and retooled by new director-choreographer Robert Longbottom in fall 1998.
It reopened to better reviews, but closed May 30, 1999, to accommodate new Minskoff tenant Saturday Night Fever. The show was scaled back and recast (cutting 41 performers to 29) and aimed for a smaller venue, the Neil Simon. The new trio of leads in the French Revolution-era yarn are Ron Bohmer in the title role, Carmello as his mysterious wife, Marguerite, and Marc Kudisch as villain Chauvelin.
A hit with audiences, but ultimately not critics, Pimpernel, a musical adventure story with lusty romance-novel touches, is expected to be popular on the road.
The loss of Pimpernel frees up the coveted Neil Simon Theatre for homeless shows seeking shelter before the end of the 1999-2000 season. Stephen Sondheim's Wise Guys (now in a workshop staging), John Caird's Jane Eyre (a hit in southern California over the summer), Finian's Rainbow (which got a rave in The Miami Herald after its recent Florida opening), and the revival of The Music Man are all looking for venues.
For tickets to The Scarlet Pimpernel, call (212) 307-4100 or (800) 755-4000.