Like its adventurous lead character, The Scarlet Pimpernel isn't being shy about publicity: King Displays is constructing a billboard for the show which they claim will be the largest billboard ever to advertise a Broadway production.
At 156 by 42 feet, the marquee will be double the size of the average highway sign (60X20) and essentially fill the entire city block on the west side of Broadway between 44th and 45th St.
Asked if the producers needed a special ordinance to put up such a huge advertisement, a spokesperson for New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani told Playbill On-Line that since the billboard will occupy the windows of the theatre itself, "it's their own property. If they were selling something other than themselves, there might be a problem, but that's not the case here."
The new Frank Wildhorn musical opens on Broadway Nov. 9, and casting has not yet been announced. Tickets went on sale June 15 through TicketMaster, (212) 307-4100. The Minskoff box office will open Sept. 8 for previews beginning Oct. 7.
* The morning after the April 28 Broadway opening of Jekyll & Hyde - Wildhorn's first complete Broadway score -- he began a week of auditions for Scarlet Pimpernel.
Peter Hunt will direct the show, which is still in the process of casting. In January, Ed Urban of Hughes Moss Casting told Playbill On-Line that at a reading of the show a few months back, Carolee Carmello had the female lead, while Greg Zerkle played the Pimpernel.
Designing Pimpernel are Andrew Jackness (sets), Jane Greenwood (costumes), Natasha Katz (lighting) and Karl Richardson (sound). Walter Painter will choreograph, and Rick Sordelet will swash buckles as fight choreographer.
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 said that extensive rewrites by Wildhorn and librettist 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." There is a completely new title song.
Librettist/lyricist Knighton is also scripting a stage adaptation of the Bee Gees-scored film, Saturday Night Fever, set for the London Palladium April 1998. Wildhorn and J&H lyricist Leslie Bricusse also wrote some of the songs for Victor/Victoria.
A 1992 studio recording of the score on Angel records features J&H star Linda Eder, along with Chuck Wagner, Dave Clemmons and Peabo Bryson.
A pimpernel is a small red flower found in the English countryside. In the musical (and Orczy's 11 original novels), the pimpernel is the crest of Sir Percy Blakeney's family - he has it on a ring which he uses to seal all secret documents he sends to the members of his League. Since his secret band sends a note with the seal each time they free a prisoner from the guillotine, they become known as the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel.