The company that plunged "into the fire" of the national tour of The Scarlet Pimpernel in February 2000 will see the flame snuffed out April 1 in Grand Rapids, MI, the last road booking of the populist Broadway tuner.
The Frank Wildhorn-Nan Knighton musical version of the romantic adventure novel of the same name was a crowd pleaser in New York, and went through several revisions before ending a Broadway run that totaled 772 performances. The show made Douglas Sills a star and a hot property, and he returned to the title role for the first 17 weeks of the 2000-2001 tour.
Ron Bohmer, Amy Bodnar and William Michals finish the tour as Percy, Margeurite and Chauvelin, respectively. Bohmer, who also played the role on Broadway, stepped into the tour in Denver in December 2000, when Robert Patteri was sidelined with a vocal injury.
The national tour of The Scarlet Pimpernel had a slight nip and tuck as compared to the Broadway version that closed in January 2000. The tour began Feb. 20, 2000, in New Haven, CT. The rocky French seacoast set seen in the fall 1999 Broadway version of the romantic adventure was scrapped due to its size and was replaced, in a tidy Nan Knighton rewrite, by the show's Act One, Scene One setting in a theatre. A guillotine is set up on stage and enemies Chauvelin (played by Michals) and Sir Percy (Sills) have their final encounter among the curtains and gaslight.
The show debuted on Broadway in fall 1997 at the Minskoff Theatre and was retooled in fall 1998 with a new cast and a tweaked score.
After closing at the Minskoff, the show was trimmed down — scenically and in cast size — in summer 1999 and a brief out of-town tour played prior to a run at the Neil Simon Theatre, back on Broadway (Sept. 10, 1999-Jan. 2, 2000).
The different versions have affectionately been called "1.0," "2.0" and 3.0." It was thought the tour would be a copy of the fall 3.0 show, but the tweaked ending (without the seacoast set) truly made the tour version "4.0."
The romantic musical adventure by composer Frank Wildhorn and lyricist librettist Nan Knighton (drawn from the story by Baroness Orczy) played a total of 772 performances (and 39 previews) during its two-year run in various forms: The original 1997 Peter Hunt-directed version, the 1998 revamped Robert Longbottom version and the 1999 small-cast Longbottom remount. Longbottom directs and choreographs the tour, as well.
Amy Bodner, fresh from the tour of Martin Guerre, plays Percy's wife, the apparently duplicitous Marguerite.
Radio City Entertainment and Ted Forstmann are the show's producers.
A hit with audiences, but ultimately not critics, Pimpernel, with its lusty romance-novel touches, was popular on the road. Designers are Andrew Jackness (sets), Jane Greenwood (costumes), Natasha Katz (lighting) and Karl Richardson (sound) Ron Melrose is musical director.
Songs in the score include "Into the Fire," "Storybook," "The Creation of Man," "They Seek Him Here" and "Where's the Girl?"