Even as Frank Wildhorn prepares for the April 28 Broadway opening of his musical Jekyll & Hyde, the composer is hard at work on a second musical planning a 1997 Broadway premiere -- The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Pimpernel has reserved Nov. 2 as its tentative opening night. New York Post columnist Cindy Adams reports (Feb. 19) that the Minskoff Theatre, home of soon-to-close Sunset Boulevard, will house the musical.
Executive producer Kathleen Raitt told Playbill On-Line (Feb. 4) the show is in the process of casting and will announce its design staff shortly. "It's a very romantic and very funny piece," Raitt (ex-wife of Carousel's John Raitt) said. "It's a swashbuckling adventure with loads of action. Lots of fun."
Asked if the surprise shuttering of Sunset would hasten the musical's move to Broadway, Raitt said, "No, Sunset closes March 22nd, and then they have to do the load-out. We begin rehearsals in mid mid-July, with a load-in scheduled for mid-September."
Like J&H, Pimpernel is based on a 19th century novel -- this one by Baroness Orczy. It's the swashbuckling adventure story of hero who aids victims of the French Revolution while posing as a British nobleman. Also like J&H, Pimpernel has survived during its gestation period on the strength of a CD recording of the score. Pimpernel's was released in 1992 as a concept album during the time when the show was in development by the Nederlander Organization in New York.
Co producer Kathleen Raitt (ex-wife of Broadway star John) said that extensive rewrites by Wildhorn and librettist Nan Knighton have been completed. Eight of the songs on the CD have been dropped. The ones that remain in the forthcoming show are "Into the Fire," "They Seek Him Here," "When I Look at You," "Madame Guillotine," "The Riddle," "The Creator of Man," "Storybook" and "The Pimpernel Fanfare." Not only is there is a completely new title song, but according to Raitt, a new number, "Only Love," is currently being recorded by various artists.
Peter Hunt will direct the show, which, according to Andrea Dossa of producer Pierre Cosette's office, is still in the process of capitalizing. Dossa wouldn't comment on casting, but she did confirm the show's target date of fall 1997.
Ed Urban, at Hughes Moss Casting, said that his office won't be casting the show for a while, since Pimpernel doesn't go up until next season, and composer Wildhorn is busy with the more pressing schedule of Jekyll And Hyde. Urban noted that at a reading of the show a few months back, Carolee Carmello had the female lead, while Greg Zerkle played the Pimpernel.