During a time of violence, blood and revolution, heroes are born — and so are dazzling works of literature.
The French Revolution provided the backdrop for such masterpieces as Les Miserables, A Tale of Two Cities and The Scarlet Pimpernel.
The comedic gentry in The Scarlet Pimpernel gives it unique flair.
“Anyone with a sense of adventure of course will appreciate the fact that these eight aristocrats are trying to outwit an entire French army,” Grantsville High School Director Matt Price said.
The musical will be performed at Grantsville High School May 18-21, and stars Sir Percy (played by Tycen Lear).
Percy begins a daring double life when his friend, Marquis de St. Cyr (played by Truxton Moulton) is beheaded at the guillotine along with others innocent of crime during the reign of terror.
As the Scarlet Pimpernel, Percy travels between England and France on the pretext of acquiring the most recent fashions.
Those memorable, gaudy costumes are part of what make the show what it is.
“This is only the second time in my career that I’ve ever rented a whole casting of costumes,” Price said.
To portray the 18th Century French nobility, Price rented the stunning costumes complete with ruffles and elaborate brocade from Pioneer Memorial Theatre in Salt Lake City.
As the Scarlet Pimpernel saves lives and outwits those in authority, he becomes beloved of some.
He is also a thorn in the side of Robespierre (played by Dewey McNeill), a famous leader in the French Revolution and Citizen Chauvelin (played by Chandler Durrant), who set out on a mission to discover his identity.
Caught in the turmoil of the times is Sir Percy’s wife, Marguerite St. Just (played by Dana Humke).
Sir Percy is given reason to distrust her immediately after their marriage.
Heartbroken, he turns from her with his secrets, leaving her confused and alone.
Further complicating things, Citizen Chauvelin knows St. Just from before her marriage. He contacts her for help determin- French intrigue comes to G-ville ing the Scarlet Pimpernel’s identity.
Through a series of plot complications, the musical advances to its topsy turvy climax. “It’s a real unexpected ending and a lot of unexpected things happen,” Price said.
Price thinks the cast is excellent, despite the difficulty of the performance. His students chose the performance themselves.
“They always feel they have to top what we did last year and last year’s production of Tom Sawyer was really wonderful,” Price explains.
One challenge is the difficult music, another are the British and French accents.
“The music is beautiful, it’s wonderful, but it’s complex,” Price said. “Of course it’s set in a different time period in a different country — two different countries — so we work on dialects and vernacular and just those things that help them transfer into someone else.”
In fact, Price believes this year’s cast is the most talented he has ever seen. While around 100 students auditioned, there were less than 50 parts.
“It was really hard to cast, because we have an overwhelming number of talented students this year,” Price said. “Overall though, I think we have done it exactly how it should have been.”
Among the talent are Garin Hobson, playing Dewhurt, one of Percy’s bounders.
Hobson recently was named Sterling Scholar in speech and drama. He plans to continue with theatre or film at Brigham Young University.
There are countless other talented individuals, including several seniors in their final play before graduation.
“I know the community has expectations, and if we expect them to support us we have to meet them, and I think we have with this one,” Price said.
Cast members in the GHS production include: Dana Humke as Marguerite St. Just, Leona Shulz as Marie Grosholtz, Tycen Lear as Percy Blakeney, Chandler Durrant as Chauvelin, Logan Gumucio as Armand St. Just, Truxton Moulton as St. Cyr, Zach Stocks as Tussaud, Dewey McNeill as Robspierre, Timmy Cluff as Mercier, Shea Durfee as Coupeau. Percy’s Bounders are played by Kienan Hamm as Ozzy, Garin Hobson as Dewhurst, Carter Thompson as Elton, Eric Hales as Farleigh, Brent Mouritson as Hal, Ian Duclos as Ben, Tim Williamson as Prince Of Wales, Cody Burkett as Sentry, and Tyson Cook as Jessup. Ensemble is made up of Phillip Young, Cody Garrard, Michael Garrard and Chris Steele. Cupids include: Holly Arbon, Malory Madson, Bethany Swenson, Aubree Cole, Kelsey Sprague, Robyn Krieser, Whitney Young and Lacey Cole. Girls include: Lisa Christensen, Alyssa Roberts, Kelsey Elsholz, Brittany Keepers, Rachel Morris and Alyssa Authur. Girl’s ensemble includes: Kira Knapp, Abi McNeill, Michelle Fillmore, Natalia Workman, Angela Dexheimer, Laura Willette, Christina Mesler, Natalie Tripp, Amy Stocks and Morgan Lerdahl.
GHS student Truxton Moulton, who also plays the part of Marquis de St. Cyr, created the scenery. Moulton also works as a part-time technician at Pioneer Theatre Company. The musical is based on the novel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy.
The Scarlet Pimpernel runs from Wednesday May 18 – Saturday May 21 at 7 p.m. in the GHS auditorium. Tickets cost $5 for adults and $4 for students.
This will also be the first annual GHS dinner theatre, with a dinner Friday and Saturday night, although the deadline has passed for reservations.