The Scarlet Pimpernel
Book & Lyrics by Nan Knighton
Music by Frank Wildhorn
Based on the novel “The Scarlet Pimpernel” by Baroness Orczy
Barn Theatre, Oxted, Surrey
Monday 25th June to Saturday 30th June 2007
Minack Theatre on the cliffs at Porthcurno.
Monday 27th to Friday 31st August 2007
Based on Baroness Orczy’s ever-popular story of love, deception and intrigue, ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ is set in 1794 at the height of the French Revolution.
It tells the classic tale of an English aristocrat, Sir Percy Blakeney, who is secretly the Scarlet Pimpernel, and who with his loyal band of followers make repeated daring trips to France to save would-be victims from the very scaffolding of the guillotine.
This is an exhilarating adventure with a lavish musical score, hilarious libretto, glittering costumes and spectacular sword fights. Unforgettable entertainment for the whole family.
The Scarlet Pimpernel was produced by Richard Allen. Paul Longhurst once again joined us as Director, and Colin Warnock joined us for the first time as Musical Director. Our Choreographer was Fran Newitt and Assistant Director was Cathy Longhurst. Fight Direction was by Neil Reynolds.
As with all previous Minack tours, the technical team was headed up by Bruce Reed (Technical Director) and our Stage Manager was Malcolm Le Croissette. Our Production & Set Designer was once again Jill ‘Wigs’ Wilson.
The production team were delighted to welcome members of Redruth Amateur Operatic Society Trust, who joined our Barn Theatre cast when the production moved down to the Minack Theatre.
Producer: Richard Allen
Director: Paul Longhurst
Musical Director: Colin Warnock
Assistant Director: Cathy Longhurst
Choreographer: Fran Reynolds
Fight Director: Neil Reynolds
Technical Director: Bruce Reed
Stage Manager: Malcolm Le Croissette
Assistant Stage Manager: Phil Littleford
Production & Set Designer: Jill 'Wigs' Wilson
Wardrobe Mistresses: Elizabeth Skinner, Monica Mickels & Cathy Longhurst
Lighting Designer: Carolyn Rowley
Sound Technician: James McLeod
Props Supervisors: John & Sheila Bennett
Wig Mistress: Neila Dawes
Hairdresser: Sharon Dawes
Prompt: Stella Thomas
Sir Percy Blakeney: Andy Lingfield
Chauvelin: James Klech
Marguerite St Just: Kristin Callaway
Marie Grosholtz: Cathy Longhurst
Armand St Just: Paul Grace
Ben: Dave Lugg
Dewhurst: Kevin Wood
Elton: Mark Wakeford
Farleigh: Bob Wilson
Hal: Richard Allen
Ozzy: Peter French
Robespierre: Chris Chaplin
The Prince of Wales: John Harris
Jessup: Philip Laughton
Mercier: Anthony Grace / Graham Powell
Coupeau: Guy Hudson
Tussaud: Chris Bassett
The Marquis de St Cyr: Richard Allen
Pastor / Sentry: Bruce Reed
Dancers: Lorin La Fave - Cathy Longhurst - Catherine Osborne - Amelia Simmons - Elizabeth Skinner - Fiona Steel - Carly Thompson
Ensemble: Lynda Barrett - Katie Burns - Sahraon Dawes - Mark Edwards - Roger Fane - Stephanie Hornett - Carol Isham - Nick Jeffrey - Lorin La Fave - Philip Laughton - James McBride - Catherine Osborne - Julia Nash - Alsion Redford - Amelia Simmons - Elizabeth Skinner - Fiona Steel - Carly Thompson - Catherine Wyncoll - Rock Vetriano - Dan Woods
Members of 'Redruth Amateur Operatic Society Trust' (at the Minack Theatre): Christine Arthur - Darren Ball - Pam Buckton - Sarah Howe - Sonia Mead - Pat Nettle - Garryck Noble - Clare Vincent - Marina Williams
Conductor: Colin Warnock
Woodwind 1: Nick Charles
Woodwind 2: Sue Busby
Woodwind 3: Paul Summers
Woodwind 4: Tanya Weeks
Trumpet 1: Graham Wright
Trumpet 2 (Barn): Jim Marshall
Trumpet 2 (Minack): George Boote
Trombone 1: Richard Pywell
Trombone 2: Don Logie
Horn 1: Susie Walker
Horn 2: Kate Goldsmith
Percussion 1: Stephen Whittaker
Percussion 2: Mike Baker
Keyboard 1: Colin Warnock
Keyboard 2: Patrick Isbell
Bass: Andrew Laing
Phillipa Rushby - Surrey Mirror - July 2007
Set in Paris and London during 1794, the familiar tale of the secret English hero, Sir Percy Blakeney and his merry band of supporters, has been wonderfully adapted for musical stage by Nan Knighton (lyrics) and Frank Wildhorn (music).
This is a demanding production for many reasons; most notably the vocal quality required to deliver the numbers, the numerous sets and the costuming necessary to create the opulence of the period.
The Barnstormers have evidently enjoyed putting this production together - their enthusiasm was obvious and infectious. Their powerful opening chorus number quickly gained the audience's support with super choreography and a big visual impact.
Andy Lingfield, playing Sir Percy Blakeney (the Pimpernel), was wonderfully adaptable, combining foppishness with sincerity and sang with great clarity and emotion - a very controlled performance of a complex role. Along with his henchmen, he was certainly able "to convince the whole of England that we're nincompoops". Kristen Callaway, as Marguerite St Just, (Percy's wife) was equally impressive with her vocal quality and clearly showed the pain she felt due to her husband's neglect. She sounded especially good in When I Look at You and the You Are My Home duet with Percy was quite lovely.
There were no weak links in this production - the attention to characterization was excellent. James Klech as the evil Chauvelin particularly, held his poise throughout and was the perfect villain with a great voice.
The large cast coped extremely well with not having their musical director in front of them - the band was located backstage and actors relied upon TV monitors for their cues. The multiple scene changes that could have been problematic had been well designed. The slick changes were subtle with scenery flown in, minimal furnishings used to keep the stage relatively clear for movement and excellent lighting to denote areas. Excellent stage management.
The opening of Act II deserved its applause. The costuming, complete with wigs and accessories, was quite superb. Coordinating beautifully, and creating such a feeling of splendour and opulence, summarised the high standards set by the design team for every aspect of the production. I could quite happily have sat through every night of the run and found new things to marvel at each time.
Director, Paul Longhurst will no doubt be eager to see how his production will translate onto the stage at The Minack Theatre, Cornwall at the end of August - best wishes for another successful run.
Frank Ruhrmund - The Cornishman - August 2007 - 'A Perfect Pimpernel'
With the help of fair weather, a full moon, a huge bank holiday audience begging to be amused and baying for heads to roll, colourful costumes, a wealth of wigs - so many the company even has a wig mistress to account for them - and a live band, The Barnstormers lived up to their name with their musical The Scarlet Pimpernel. It was, as promised, unforgettable entertainment.
The only thing preventing it, at least for someone as squeamish as myself, from also being the claimed "perfect family adventure" was the rpesence of the gory Madame Guillotine, which really did make heads roll and in an all too convincing way, making ghouls of us all.
It is based on Baroness Orczy's early 20th Century swashbuckling novel of the absurd adventures of and even more absurd band of English aristocrats, The League of the Pimpernel, during the French Revolution.
The book and lyrics are by Nan Knighton, with music by Frank Wildhord, and it is directed by Paul Longhurst, who goes all out for the romance and comedy of the piece. It is as lively and likeable a Boy's Own night out - but for the ever present marrow slicer - as it is ludicrous.
Thanks to Colin Warnock, it is easy on the ear and, all credit to choreographer Fran Reynolds and aptly-named production and set designer Jill 'Wigs' Wilson, equally easy on the eye. A word too for fight director Neil Reynolds who gives us one of the most delightful duels I've seen on this stage.
The large cast, whether aristocrats or citizens, dancers or prisoners, soldiers of tarts, and whether from Oxted of Redruth, give it all they've got and are splendid, while the triangle of lovers around whom the plot revolves are superb. Kristin Callaway is the bilingual and bewitching Marguerite St Just who, one fells, despite her name, wouldn't know a tin mine from a tumbril. James Lech is the sanguinary Chauvelin, who probably has his own customised tumbril at home. Andy Lingfield is the breathtaking, seemingly languid, elusive and much sought-after leader of the league, Sir Percy Blakeney, and just about steals the show.
It may all be happening during the Reign of Terror but, as someone says, it is done and, from frou-frou to fireworks, this Scarlet Pimpernel is done to a T.