The producers of The Scarlet Pimpernel are wasting no time. Though the new Frank Wildhorn musical doesn't open on Broadway until Nov. 2, 1997, and casting has not been announced, the marquee for the show went up at the Minskoff Theatre, May 15, and tickets go on sale June 15 through TicketMaster, (212) 307-4100.P> The Minskoff box office will open Sept. 8. The show begins previews Oct. 7.
The producers are also offering 20 lucky winners a free pair of tickets to the opening night performance, Nov. 9. The New York Times Arts & Leisure section of June 15 will carry an ad for the show; if your copy has a special circular seal, you can call and claim a prize. Those not wishing to buy the Times can send a 3X5 postcard (with name, address & phone number) to: The Scarlet Pimpernel, c/o Grey Entertainment Times Square, 1500 Broadway, Suite 1107, New York, NY 10036. The card must be postmarked by July 3. The New York Times will post complete contest rules June 11 and 13.
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 will be 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 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." There is a completely new title song.
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.