The current return engagement of The Scarlet Pimpernel on Broadway will close Jan. 2, 2000, at the Neil Simon Theatre and embark on a national tour, producers Radio City Entertainment and Ted Forstmann announced Nov. 11.
By the close date, the romantic musical adventure by composer Frank Wildhorn and lyricist-librettist Nan Knighton will have 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 current 1999 small-cast Longbottom remount.
Dates and casting for the national tour will be announced later.
Susan Stroman's staging of The Music Man has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Neil Simon, but there has been no official word. Shows also seeking homes in 2000 include Finian's Rainbow, Jane Eyre, Wise Guys and Martin Guerre.
* The Broadway company of The Scarlet Pimpernel was told the week Oct. 25 that the swashbuckling musical was expected to close in January 2000 prior to a national tour.
The Broadway physical production is certainly tour-ready: Prior to reopening on Broadway Sept. 10, the show played Dallas, Houston and Atlanta with a smaller cast and leads different from the show that played the Minskoff Theatre since fall 1997.
It was not clear if the touring company would be the same as the New York cast. Leading lady Carolee Carmello, who plays Marguerite, told Playbill On-Line earlier in the year that life on the road was not her wish unless the circumstances kept her close to her family.
When Pimpernel relighted on Broadway Sept. 10, it was considered a "return" rather than a "reopening." This is the third Broadway version of the musical by lyricist-librettist Nan Knighton and composer Frank Wildhorn. The Peter Hunt-staged show opened at the Minskoff in fall 1997 to poor reviews, was bought by new producers Radio City Entertainment and Ted Forstmann and retooled by new director-choreographer Robert Longbottom in fall 1998.
It reopened to better reviews, but closed May 30, 1999, to accommodate new Minskoff tenant Saturday Night Fever. The show was scaled back and recast (cutting 41 performers to 29) and aimed for a smaller venue, the Neil Simon.
The new trio of leads in the French Revolution-era yarn are Ron Bohmer in the title role, Carmello as his mysterious wife, Marguerite, and Marc Kudisch as villain Chauvelin.
A hit with audiences, but ultimately not critics, Pimpernel, a musical adventure story with lusty romance-novel touches, is expected to be popular on the road.
For tickets to The Scarlet Pimpernel, call (212) 307-4100 or (800) 755-4000.