Broadway 1997
Scarlet Pimpernel the Musical - SYNOPSIS

Act On

Paris. May of 1794. As the French Revolution reaches its bloody peak, scores of people are slaughtered daily by the guillotine, often without trial or just reason. The condemned Marquis de St. Cyr cries out, "My friends, 'tis innocent blood runs through the gutters of Paris," but the avid French mob responds with Madame Guillotine.

In England, we witness a beautiful wedding. The groom, Sir Percival Blakeney (Percy), and the bride, a French actress by the name of Marguerite St. Just, vow their love to each other (Believe). Although Percy's friends are stunned at his whirlwind courtship with this Frenchwoman, Marguerite quickly wins over the stiff Brits, as she urges them to live. (Vivez!). But Percy's happiness is abruptly dashed when he receives information proving that his new bride has been secretly spying for the French, and was responsible for the recent death of his friend, St. Cyr. Sending a confused Marguerite off to bed alone on their wedding night, Percy sings of his heartbreak (Prayer).

Determined to somehow right the wrong his wife has done, Percy gathers his friends around him and persuades them to join him in a "private war" against the inhumanities of the bloody French regime. They will call themselves the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel and work through disguise and diversion to save as many innocent lives as they can. Boarding a schooner to sail to France, Percy and his men fight back their fears (Into the Fire).

Paris. Early July. Percy (a.k.a. The Scarlet Pimpernel) has managed with his men to pull off one clever rescue after another, and Robespierre, leader of the French Republic, is enraged. He orders his chief henchman, Chauvelin, to catch this mysterious Pimpernel instantly, and Chauvelin responds with a fiery determinatio (Falcon in the Dive).

Back in England, Percy and his men have now become virtual caricatures of their dandified, foppish selves in order to deflect suspicion from their heroic activities in France. Marguerite has no idea why Percy has become so distant and inane, and their marital estrangement is a source of constant pain for her (When I Look at You). While she confides to her brother, Armand, that she barely recognizes her husband, Percy continues his "fop act", entertaining guests and household servants, as one and all speculate about the identity of their new British hero (The Scarlet Pimpernel).

Chauvelin arrives in England and pays a visit to his former lover and revolutionary ally, Marguerite. He asks her to work with him again and help discover the identity of The Scarlet Pimpernel. She angrily refuses, but realizing that Marguerite is unhappy in her marriage, Chauvelin tries to win her to his side, reminding her of the passions they shared early in the revolution (Where's the Girl?). Marguerite sends Chauvelin away, determined to never fall into his clutches again. Alone in the garden that night, Percy looks up to see his wife standing on her bedroom balcony. Although he knows he must regard her now as a stranger - a woman not to be trusted - he cannot deny that he still loves her deeply (When I Look at You: Reprise).

Percy and his men are summoned to the Royal Palace by the Prince of Wales, who suspects they may have something to do with The League of the Pimpernel. They are able to persuade the Prince, however, that their frequent trips to France are merely to buy frills and frou-frou. Their only duty as men, they say, is to "uphold the banner of beauty" (The Creation of Man). Meanwhile, Chauvelin meets secretly with Marguerite, informing her that her beloved brother, Armand, has been arrested in Paris as a member of The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel. He insists she spy for him at Lord Grenville's ball the following night. If she fails to come up with information about the Pimpernel, Armand will be guillotined (Marguerite's Dilemma: Instrumental). Marguerite and Chauvelin eye each other warily, as Percy watches them from afar. The three are joined by the full company as one and all wonder who exactly can be trusted in this slippery world (The Riddle).

Act Two

The following night, at Lord Grenville's ball, Chauvelin commands Marguerite to use her great acting skills and feminine wiles to uncover the identity of the Pimpernel. Meanwhile, Percy continues his public disguise as England's greatest fool, teaching the ball guests a new ballade he's written about the elusive Pimpernel (They Seek Him Here). Marguerite persuades one of Percy's men to have the Pimpernel meet her on the Grenville footbridge at one in the morning. When Percy shows up, she is confused but makes one last attempt to reach her husband, hoping he may still be able to love and trust her (Only Love). But Percy leaves her side, returning at the end of the song to stand behind her in the shadows as the Pimpernel. Unable to look upon the mysterious hero, Marguerite confesses her sins to him in the dark: yes, she has tried to expose him and yes, she has spied, but it has all stemmed from Chauvelin's coercion and blackmail. She warns the Pimpernel to run from Chauvelin, and begs him to help her save her brother, Armand. Percy sends his wife away, and releases his great joy at discovering she has only been an innocent victim. All along she has been the same woman with whom he fell in love (She Was There).

Percy instantly sets off for France with his men to try to save Armand, but Marguerite also secretly travels to Paris. Disguising herself as a French tart, Leontine, she goes to a bistro late at night, where she sings with other tarts and drunken soldiers (Storybook), attempting to cajole from the soldiers information about her imprisoned brother. Chauvelin, however, is also present, and instantly seeing through her disguise, he orders both Armand and Marguerite to be sentenced to the guillotine. Embittered at his realization that Marguerite will never return his love, Chauvelin finally drives her out of his heart (Where's the Girl?: Reprise).

In prison, many families await execution. A mother and daughter comfort each other (Lullaby), and with death imminent, Marguerite and Armand turn to each other for solace (You Are My Home). But Chauvelin has a more subtle trap in mind. Resolved to catch the Pimpernel, he allows Marguerite and Armand to escape. Knowing Armand will lead him to the Pimpernel's hideaway on the French seacoast, he follows them as they travel all night to the fishing port of Miquelon. Here, Marguerite finally learns that the Scarlet Pimpernel is none other than her own husband, Percy, and Percy and Chauvelin confront each other in the ultimate showdown (The Duel: Instrumental). After Percy outwits Chauvelin one last time, he and Marguerite sail happily home to England renewing their wedding vows, trusting in each other at last. (Believe: Reprise). Full Company joins in to celebrate this triumph of the human spirit. (Into the Fire: Reprise).