South Lakes High School The Scarlet PimpernelBy Cappies • May 23rd, 2011 • Category: Cappies
Dashing through the streets of a divided Paris, the illusive Scarlet Pimpernel and his band of loyal cohorts rescue innocent souls from the unjust guillotine. His mission is to stop the shameless bloodshed of the French Revolution, while keeping his identity unknown, especially to his dear wife. As the clues to his unmasking mount, both the French and English take steps to discover and destroy the Scarlet Pimpernel.
That musical, The Scarlet Pimpernel, was written by Frank Wildhorn and Nana Knighton, who also composed the musical Jekyll and Hyde. This acclaimed duo brought yet another classic novel by the same name, originally written by Baroness Orczy in 1907, to the Broadway stage. This tempestuous tale of love triangles and passionate battles for justice premiered on Broadway in 1997, and received three nominations at the Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
The Parisian guillotine amid struggling throngs and the aristocratic palace halls of England were grandly opened to the modern audience attending South Lakes High School’s production of The Scarlet Pimpernel. Abby Coryell’s rich mezzo-soprano voice serenaded the audience from the moment she introduced them to her world as the character Marguerite St. Just. Leading the production with her powerful vocals, she consistently gave a convincing and reliable performance. The suave and threatening character of Chauvelin, was played by Alex Turner. His slithering sinister quality provided the production with a feared antagonist, adding tense dynamics to the piece. Directly contrasting his character was that of Percy Blakeney, played by Daniel Delcoco, whose humor served to conceal his true identity as the noble and endearing Scarlet Pimpernel.
The intoxicating melodies were played by the Scarlet Pimpernel Pit Orchestra. Though at times, pitches went askew in the higher keys, the percussion’s booming character paired well with the sweet melodies of the woodwinds to provide an aura of 16th century charm. Suitably painting the stage with lights was Kensy Forman, with her theatrical lighting designs which proved fitting for such a dramatic piece. Taking cues from the music, the lighting on occasion would intensify alongside it, to effectively and subtly heighten the emotional level on stage. The sound crew, led by Alessandro Gaiarin, also seemed to pay close attention to the balance between the orchestra and the actors’ vocals, which resulted in a comfortable blend. The stage crew did an admirable job of transitioning between the multiple and massive worlds which were necessary for such a large scale production. It was evident that much effort had been invested in the effective stage management, due to the crew’s diligence and timing.
The tragically tender music and the theme of fervent struggle for freedom, in the The Scarlet Pimpernel, combined to transport one to the troubled times of the French Revolution. South Lakes’ attempt to revisit this era with much commitment was appreciated by its captivated audience, who were engaged by the unraveling of the hidden identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel.
by Mariana Barbosa of JEB Stuart High School
Photos by Michael A. Slivinski
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