Cappies Review: “The Scarlet Pimpernel”
While a group of deceitful English fops frees Frenchmen from “Madame Guillotine”, their leader, the Scarlet Pimpernel, struggles to hide from the French government and reconcile his love for a seemingly traitorous wife. Such was the story of South Lakes High School’s “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” a production rife with heroics, wit, and prevailing love.
Based on Baroness Orczy’s novel of the same name, “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” with music by Frank Wildhorn and book and lyrics by Nan Knighton, opened on Broadway in 1997 and ran on and off with multiple revisions until 2000. Percy Blakeney, a wealthy Englishman (Daniel Delcoco), escapes from the French government’s Reign of Terror with his wife Marguerite St. Just (Abby Coryell). When he discovers that Marguerite has betrayed a close friend of theirs to the French Citizen Chauvelin (Alex Turner), Percy assumes the role of the Scarlet Pimpernel, rescuing condemned Frenchmen from the guillotine with a group of fellow English sympathizers.
The cast showed the desperation and horror of the French citizenry, as well as their characters’ own internal struggles, with strong, consistent acting choices. Daniel Delcoco tackled the title role with humor, wit, and an unmatched liveliness. His high-energy absurdity was consistent throughout the performance and lent itself well to the comedic elements of the show. As the more serious Marguerite St. Just, Abby Coryell gave an emotionally powerful performance punctuated by beautiful vocals. Her song “I’ll Forget You” was an moving piece that balanced both strong vocals and acting, a feat that other actors sometimes struggled with. Playing the villainous Citizen Chauvelin, Alex Turner displayed a snarling bestiality in his effort to destroy the Scarlet Pimpernel. His expression in both his face and voice gave him a sinister, nearly frightening characterization.
Sean McCoy played Armand St. Just, the younger brother of Marguerite, with fierce determination. His strong body language was effective in showing his courage and spirit, and he gave a surprisingly sweet and clear vocal performance in the duet “You Are My Home: Garden Reprise”, his voice blending well with Coryell’s. In a more comedic role, Derek Wahdan portrayed Elton, one of Blakeney’s sidekicks, with a somewhat effeminate flair. He shamelessly, even happily, donned a green leopard-striped skin-tight suit in the song “The Creation of Man” along with the rest of the Pimpernel’s sidekicks, and he wielded a butterfly net with fluidity and grace.
The lighting, designed by Kenzy Forman, was simple but efficient in keeping the actors visible at all times. The sound, designed by Alessandro Gaiarin, helped add to the time period and setting of the play with realistic sounds such as thunder crashes and horse hooves.
South Lakes High School’s production of “The Scarlet Pimpernel” captured the world of a fear-stricken France and told a tale of love, adventure, and man’s irrevocable spirit in the face of adversity with sophistication and energy.