The Scarlet Pimpernel - May 2013
Studio 1 plans 'surprises' at 'Scarlet Pimpernel' opening
By Charity Apple / Times-News
Posted Apr. 21, 2013 at 12:01 AM
The opening of “The Scarlet Pimpernel: The Musical” will provide a lot of “firsts” for Studio 1. On April 26, the theater will be dedicated to the late Sara McMillan Brown, an area arts supporter, and it will also be the first time the playbills, in this county at least, will be interactive. The theater is “going green” a few days after Earth Day, April 22; theatergoers can access the playbills and information about the performers on their smartphones.
“Opening night will be so emotional with the dedication of the theater, announcing our second season and other surprises,” said Tim Brown, son of the late Sara Brown and president of Studio 1’s board of directors. He plays Sir Percy Blakeney, the Scarlet Pimpernel.
The musical, written by Nan Knighton, is based on the novel by the same name, by Baroness Orczy and features music by Frank Wildhorn. It was performed on Broadway from 1997 through 2000 in several theaters and also had a U.S. tour.
“It’s a huge show with a lot of stage combat,” said Tami Kress, executive director of Studio 1 and director of this show. “It’s also musically demanding of the three main characters.”
Thirty-three performers are in the cast, which Kress described as “man-heavy.” The Scarlet Pimpernel, she said, is like “a modern-day Zorro.” In the middle of the night, he would attempt to save those destined to be beheaded.
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. April 26, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. April 27, 2 p.m. April 28, 7:30 p.m. May 3, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. May 4 and 2 p.m. May 5 at Studio 1, 1332 Plaza Drive, Burlington.
Set in England and France during the French Revolution, it features the reign of terror there, complete with people being beheaded by guillotines.
“We were researching hairstyles and came across the ‘victim haircut,’ which was razor-cut hair for those about to be beheaded,” Kress said.
“This is probably one of the hardest roles I have ever done. The amount of singing, it’s physical and portraying several different characters throughout the play makes it challenging. Tami has really pushed me further than I have ever been pushed as a performer,” Brown said.
Gretchen Bruesehoff plays Marguerite, a French actress who is about to be married to Percy Blakeney but is torn between her feelings for him and Citizen Chauvelin, an old flame.
Logan Cox said the role of Citizen Chauvelin was definitely challenging.
“I rarely get to play a villainous character, especially one who is so complex. There are many moments that show he’s more than just evil. His feelings of love for Marguerite are made clear early on, but before the show is over, he realizes he cannot win her heart,” Cox said.
Sean Lucier, who plays Marguerite’s brother, Armand, is the choir teacher at Western Alamance High School. He said that while “I’ve been music directing shows at Western, which is incredibly rewarding, but I’ve missed the opportunity to take a script and create a character that the audience can love, laugh at or even hate. It’s very exciting to become someone else on stage.”
The three-sided “thrust” stage has been perfect for an intimate show like this one, Kress said. “It puts the audience right there with the actors — they feel like they’re part of the action.”
The show is recommended for teens and adults due to the warlike themes and elements.
“The show brings up the controversy in France during the time of the French Revolution. It shows how the good nature and intelligence of a few good-hearted men can save many people. This is important because although we do not face the guillotine anymore, we still face death and injustices every day. It just shows what a kind word or action may do to stand up in the face of adversity,” Bruesehoff added.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and senior citizens and can be purchased online at www.studio1online.org. For more details, call (336) 534-0321.