EMAV Review: Amusing deceit and disguise decorate 'The Scarlet Pimpernel' ★★★☆☆


Signature Productions presents a satisfying production with its current offering of "The Scarlet Pimpernel ".

The musical originally opened on Broadway at the Minskoff Theatre on November 9, 1997 -- with the book and lyrics by Nan Knighton, and music by Frank Wildhorn -- and received a number of award nominations including Tony Award nominations for "Best Musical," "Best Book," and "Best Actor" (Douglas Sills).

The play is set in England and France and portrays the romance, intrigue and horrors of one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Based on the classic novel by Hungarian born Baroness Orczy (written in 1905), it is a tale of courage, betrayal, justice, trust, honor and love. Her audacious and reckless protagonist was a "daring plotter" who used "tricks and games" against the cruelties of the French Revolution.

Set as the Reign of Terror reaches its bloody climax in 1794, a brave band of English noblemen risk their lives to rescue the intended victims of the guillotine. They cross the channel and use disguises, ruses, and wit to foil the French army. While on English soil, these members of the "League of the Scarlet Pimpernel" pose as the fanciest of fops to avoid suspicion. Their leader is an enigmatic hero known only by his calling card: the red, star-shaped wildflower known as the Scarlet Pimpernel, one of the most famous heroic characters in popular fiction.

Sir Percy Blakeney is a late-Georgian British society aristocrat who successfully alters his personality to become a vain, self-absorbed fop known more for being a dandy than having any semblance to a swordsman and hero. No one suspects him as he leads a double life as "the Scarlet Pimpernel". His nemesis, the French Republican agent Citizen Chauvelin, the head of state security, carefully constructs his own net of intrigue in attempting to capture the infamous hero!

All of the Signature Productions’ primary characters are strong vocalists and deliver powerful performances, including: Kaylie King (Marguerite St. Just), Casey Moore (Armand St. Just), Cody Sims (Percy Blakeney / The Scarlet Pimpernel) and Joshua Meltzer (Chauvelin).

The Musical Direction of Shauna Oblad and the Choreography of Ashley Oblad effectively convey the charm and spirit of the times -- especially when Percy and his fellow aristocrats practice the art of accessorizing and when the entire company dances at the Royal Ball. Imaginative and ostentatious costumes designed by Dawna Kenworthy and Douglas Baker heighten the impact of these moments.

Under the direction of Douglas Baker, the rest of the creative team transports us between late 1700’s London and France through unpretentious yet flexible set designs of pen and ink illustrations by Brad Shelton and skilled lighting by Jordan Dube. The only production element which could have been softened further was the sound design, as the orchestration was often too loud to hear the soloists and choral harmonies.

Performances continue through November 19th with Saturday matinees at 2pm on November 5th, 12th, & 19th. Tickets are $30 for adults, $28 for seniors & students, $20 for children 6-12 and can be purchased by calling (702) 878-7529 or online at SignatureProductions.net. Group rates are available. Presented at Summerlin Library and Performing Arts Center, 1771 Inner Circle Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89134.

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