Swordplay, secret messages, and satin? I’m in! THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, a new production by The Concord Players, is a cut above the usual musical offerings.
This production, directed by Corey Jackson, draws historical reference and inspiration from the French Revolution and Baroness Emmuska Orezy’s play of the same name. The story revolves around the double life of English nobleman, Sir Percival Blakeney (Ethan Butler). Underneath a mop of frills, lace, and ballroom finery, beats a man of bravado and daring called “The Scarlet Pimpernel”. In various disguises and with a band of bold friends, Sir Blackeney leads an underground effort to repeatedly save the lives of French aristocrats condemned to the guillotine. After each rescue, Blakeney leaves behind a pimpernel blossom as his trademark. Much to the chagrin of the corrupt French officials, the Pimpernel communicates with his conspirators right under their noses via letters sealed with his coat of arms. The blood-thirsty Chauvelin (James Tallach) is ordered to England to act as an ambassador from “The Rein of Terror” and to ferret out the elusive Pimpernel. Not even his French wife, Marguerite St. Just (Sarah Consentino Jackson), suspects that her husband may be engaged in more than just cucumber sandwich soirées. In time, the Pimpernel reveals himself to Chauvelin and a spectacular duel ensues. En garde!
Overall, it’s jolly good intrigue! Tallach’s turn as Chauvelin supplies the sizzling sinister glue that grounds the entire production and makes the story powerful and plausible. It’s LES MIZ light, but here the comedy works well and gives the audience a much needed relief from the guillotine looming in the background. Ethan Butler’s rousing “Into the Fire” as well as impressive boat building in 10 seconds flat by set designer by Brian Harris add to the drama and anthem-like fervor. “The Riddle” by Jackson, Butler, and Tallach is a ménage à trois of distrust, deceit, and decidedly solid singing from the leads. Lastly, period costumes, hair and makeup by Tracy Wall, Cheri Fletcher, Lisbeth Cahill, and Charlie Atherton also add zest and credibility to the production. Cut to the chase and get to the Concord Players for THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL. It’s only playing through this weekend and May 7-8. You’ll laugh your head off!