Offstage, in a small room that looks like a mini-tool shop, prop master James Cariot and assistant properties person Laura McGarty are readying the swords for the performance: There are five swords in the show; all were manufactured by Louis Shaw in Baltimore and come equipped with steel blades from Germany. McGarty is working on a desk-top machine, not sharpening, but filing down the edges of a sword -- for safety during Scarlet Pimpernel's sword clashes.
"The swords get small nicks every time they're used," says Cariot, "and before each performance they all have to be rounded over and filed down."
Once a week "dye testing" is done on the swords to make certain that there are no stress fractures (microscopic cracks). If a stress fracture is discovered , the blade must be replaced. (So far two swords have been permanently sheathed.)
"This is a big, automated show, with winches and platforms moving all over the place, but there are a lot of fun props," says McGarty. "There's a company called Rabbit's Choice that has built many of the props, and they've incorporated a rabbit into each of the props: There's a globe that has a little image of a rabbit in the Atlantic Ocean, a chicken in a chicken cart that has rabbit ears on it, and a rabbit on the fish cart."
-- By Rebecca Paller