Scarlet Pimpernel star Douglas Sills is expected to plunge back “into the fire” of the Broadway musical Oct. 15 after missing four performances because of a hoarse voice and sore throat.
Sills sat out the Sunday Oct. 11 evening performance at the Minskoff Theatre, plus the Oct. 13-14 evenings and the Oct. 14 matinee. His standby, Nat Chandler, went on every day except Oct. 11 because there had not been an understudy rehearsal of the recently revamped show.
The Oct. 11 evening show was canceled, silencing the show’s swashbuckling signature song, “Into the Fire,” the rousing anthem that helped stress Sills’ critically-acclaimed voice.
Spokesman Adrian Bryan-Brown told Playbill On-Line Oct. 13 that because of the hectic process of rehearsing the newly rewritten and redirected show while performing the old show at night, understudy Chandler had not yet had an opportunity to rehearse the role.
The production had not scheduled an understudy rehearsal in the days leading up to the revision’s Oct. 10 debut. The company used the dark Sunday night (Oct. 11) to run an understudy rehearsal with Chandler. Bryan-Brown said the company is looking at Sills’ condition day-by day.
The show was shut down Oct. 2-9 to implement previously-rehearsed changes in the 1997 musical, a rare move for an already-running project. The “new” show premiered at the matinee Oct. 10 and Bryan-Brown confirmed Pimpernel is indeed in a preview period leading toward a new opening “probably not as late as Nov. 9,” which marks the one-year anniversary of the original opening.
New stars Rex Smith and Rachel York are now a part of the cast and a new ad campaign began over the summer. Robert Longbottom (Side Show) has been brought in to redirect and reshape material, with the help of librettist-lyricist Nan Knighton and composer Frank Wildhorn. Longbottom was not credited for his work in the Playbill on the first weekend of the rewrite’s performances. Peter Hunt, the original director, is working on other projects.
The new blood in the show is due to the commitment of new producers Cablevision’s Radio City Entertainment and Ted Forstmann, who bought the show’s rights in July.