SCERA Opens Outdoor Season With THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL

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Before the arrival of Zorro, Iron Man, Superman and Batman, there was the Scarlet Pimpernel. All are heroes with dual lives. They may appear unassuming and some may be labeled as the frivolous rich, but hidden under these unassuming covers are stars that specialize in heroism.

This ongoing trend of superheroes started more than a century ago with "The Scarlet Pimpernel," written by Baroness Orczy in 1905. Its themes remain as relevant today as they were in the story set among the French Revolution and the era of the guillotine.

The story has been adapted to screen and stage, and SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre will bring the epic musical drama to the stage beginning June 5 as the first event in its 2020 summer season.

Performances will run Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through June 20 under the stars at the Shell, 600 South and 400 East in Orem.

General admission tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children 3-11 and seniors 65 and older, with reserved area tickets ranging from $15 to $18 for adults and $13 to $16 for children and seniors. Nonprofit groups of 20 or more may get nonrefundable tickets in advance for $6 each. Those who purchased earlier tickets for "Pimpernel," which was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, may use them for any one night of the outdoor production in the general admission section.

Directed by DeLayne Bluth Dayton, "The Scarlet Pimpernel" is a swashbuckling action/adventure musical unfolding during the infamous Reign of Terror following the start of the French Revolution.

The story's deception, treachery, misinterpretations, intrigue and love are enhanced by a rousing and heartfelt score by Nan Knighton and Frank Wildhorn. Among the favorites are "Into the Fire," "When I Look at You," "You are My Home," "She was There" and "I'll Forget You." Also adding to the production's energy is choreography by Lindsay Folkman, former teacher at Ballet West.

The musical, originally scheduled indoors at SCERA Center for the Arts, was getting ready to open when the SCERA had to stop production because of the pandemic coronavirus. Dayton and her cast were disappointed, but Dayton didn't want to wait until 2021 to stage the show. "Some of the cast would not be available later, including our incredible leads," she explains.

After debating, and then deciding to reschedule "The Scarlet Pimpernel" for the outdoor stage this summer, the production team realized they had to make changes.

"Our set designer, Shawn Herrera, was determined to honor what we had done indoors, but had to expand the stage significantly. That not only meant we needed more nails and wood to lengthen and make it larger, we also had to figure out how we could stage the action from the guillotine and angry mobs in France to a regal palace in England as well as prisons, gardens and other locations."

Dayton continues, "We had to become focused and creative on a much larger and open set, and the result is a stage and a show that is even grander than the original."

The musical gets its title from the main character, a chivalrous Englishman who rescues aristocrats before they are sent to the guillotine. Sir Percy Blakeney appears to be a silly, wealthy peacock, but beneath the appearances is an intimidating swordsman who, along with a band of friends, rescues people from certain death. He is called the Scarlet Pimpernel after the small red flower he marks on his secret correspondence. Also woven into the historical fiction is a love story filled with misunderstandings and secrets.

Of the actors, Dayton says, "This is a dream cast. At auditions, I was thrilled to tears to hear amazing, powerful voices that embody this period piece. Some seem to have been born to play these roles. The talent was so incredible, I could have cast the leads three times over."

Leads include Scott Hendrickson as Sir Percy Blakeney aka the Scarlet Pimpernel, McKenna Thomas as Marguerite, Percy's wife, and Josh Egbert as Chauvelin, the cunning and manipulative villain.

"This is an ideal musical for the world in which we live," Dayton explains. "It shows the value of doing the right thing in the face of danger and demonstrates how a few people can make an enormous difference. In our age of superheroes, the Scarlet Pimpernel stands as one of its pioneers."

"Be sure to bring your masks," says Adam J. Robertson, SCERA's President and CEO. "The characters will be wearing costume masks during the ball scenes, and you'll be right there with the intrigue going onstage."

COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS: SCERA has implemented all state and county guidelines including reduced capacity, masks strongly encouraged for patrons, staff wearing masks and gloves, frequent sanitizing, social distancing, and chairs set up to allow for appropriate spacing. Please take personal responsibility for your health and safety and those of others. Stay hone if you are sick. High risk persons may come early to Gate 8 and get settled first.


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