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Theatre / The Scarlet Pimpernel

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The Scarlet Pimpernel is a musical based on the novel by Baroness Orczy. The music is by Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde), book and lyrics by Nan Knighton. It debuted on Broadway in 1997, going through several revisions over the next few years before settling on version 4 in 2000.

In additional to various tropes inherited from the novels, this musical provides examples of:

  • Ascended Extra: Dewhurst, here The Lancer instead of just another league member.
  • BSoD Song: Plenty of them. Percy has "Prayer", Chauvelin has the reprise of "Where's the Girl?", and later versions give Marguerite "I'll Forget You".
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: "They Seek Him Here," in which Sir Percy sings his new poem in praise of the Pimpernel, which quickly becomes a court fashion. Also briefly during "The Scarlet Pimpernel" when, after hearing all the rumors, Percy proclaims the Pimpernel "This lucky bloody swell."
  • Celibate Hero: Although Percy is madly in love with his wife, he shuns her because of her apparent crime and has yet to consummate their marriage. Also, given his profession, he probably doesn't have the time to be anything else.
  • Composite Character: The eighteen strong League of the Scarlet Pimpernel, aside from Percy and Armand, were folded into Dewhurstnote , Elton, Farleigh, Ben, Hal, Ozzy, Hastings, Neville, and Leggett. Later revisions cut the later three men out and give their lines to the first six.
    • The Takarazuka Revue production merged Armand's character with Tussaud, making the former the love interest of Marie.
  • Dare to Be Badass: "Into the Fire".
  • Dark Reprise:
    • Chauvelin sings "Where's The Girl?" as a love song to Marguerite, then later renounces her in a snarling reprise.
    • Shortly after "When I Look at You", it is repeated by a second character with exactly the same lyrics.
    • A reprise of Madame Guillotine. While hard to make darker, it is a declaration of determination to hunt by Chauvelin and is in some cases referred to as The Riddle: Part 1. While not on most albums, it's on the German cast album as "Das Verwirrspiel: Teil 1"
  • Decomposite Character: The Takarazuka Revue production restores Ffoulkes as a separate character.
  • Historical Domain Character: Marguerite's best friend Marie Grosholtz, later Marie Tussaud. Yes, that Madame Tussaud.
  • Homesickness Hymn: The cut song "Home", which would have had Marguerite swear to return to France one day, somehow. least she gets her wish by the end of the musical.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: “Madame Guillotine” plays with imagery of the guillotine as a lover.
    Now come let our lady possess you
    In her breathtaking hair-raising bed
    She will tingle your spine
    As she captures your heart and your head
  • "I Want" Song: "Home Again" and "When I Look At You" — In the latter, Marguerite wants the man she fell in love with back, please.
  • Insistent Terminology: Percy prefers to call Chauvelin "Mr. Shoovelin." The Takarazuka Revue production had characters find new ways of botching Chauvelin's name. Percy himself corrects one instance.
  • Loving a Shadow: In "When I Look at You," Marguerite looks at her cooling marriage and wonders if she simply fell in love with her idea of Percy rather than the real thing:
    Did I create a dream?
    Was he a fantasy?
    Even a memory is paradise for all the fools like me.
    • Shortly after, in a Call-Back, Percy reprises the song to show that his thoughts are running in the same course — his fear that he fell for a dream that he can never have.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Chauvelin was Marguerite's lover for a brief time before she met Percy; she's so afraid that Percy will leave her if he learns about her past and thinks her to be a loose woman that Chauvelin is able to blackmail her.
  • Opening Chorus: "Madame Guillotine"
  • The Promise: "Prayer," where Percy, shaken by the death of his friend and the seeming betrayal of his wife, vows to battle the evils of the Revolution:
    With time,
    I'll find a way to right this wrong,
    If it takes my whole life long,
    Lord, I'll fight my battles all alone,
    But make me strong!
  • Sarcastic Confession: At one point, Sir Percy cheerfully confesses to being the Scarlet Pimpernel, getting an And I'm the Queen of Sheba in response.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Marguerite moves easily in society, but is also a former performer at La Comedie Francaise who sparkles with wit and enjoys living life to its fullest — something seen at her wedding reception in "Vivez" and when she infiltrates France in disguise as a tart in "Storybook."
  • Villain Song: "Falcon in the Dive" for Chauvelin.
  • We Used to Be Friends: At the heart of "When I Look at You," where Marguerite sadly concludes that the Percy she's married to is not the Percy she used to know.