Review: ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel” a Singing Success at WHS
“‘It’s Kind of Like Batman During the French Revolution'”
Ben and Kelly Bosis’ 84-year old grandfather was the first to rise to his feet at the conclusion of “The Scarlet Pimpernel” which opened last night at Warwick High School for a 3-day run. Dan Bosis, who had traveled from Michigan with his wife, Marilyn, to see the two of his three Warwick-educated grandchildren perform in the musical, was quickly joined in the ovation by those far younger but every bit as enthusiastic, and for good reason.
The WHS production of the “The Scarlet Pimpernel” is everything that a good musical should be, and more, with outstanding vocal performances, elaborate costumes, and a script both humorous and engaging. I could not imagine a finer performance of this play than what I witnessed last night.The only opening night jitters appeared to be in the audience.
“The Scarlet Pimpernel” begins when French stage actress Lady Marguerite St. Just (Sharon Christner) is swept off her feet by Percy Blakeny (Matthew Hehnly), a dashing Englishman whom she is about to wed during the bloody French Revolution.
The story revolves around the couple’s clandestine interactions on both sides of the battle, and is filled with intrigue and surprise. Fans of heroic genres will adore The Scarlet Pimpernel, a dapper gentleman with a hero’s heart who sets out to rescue those targeted for execution on “Madame Guillotine” by his new wife’s old lover, Citizen Chauvelin (Erik Homberger).
Percy, aka The Scarlet Pimpernel, distances himself from his new wife in England after learning of her alliance with the villainous Chauvelin, who leads entire families to the gallows in France. Believing her to be a spy, his affections turn cold and he secretly travels to France with his band of merry men and his new brother-in-law to daringly rescue those doomed to a certain death. He directs his league of men to only follow orders bearing the seal of the flower on his family crest, a scarlet pimpernel.
“It’s kind of like ‘Batman’ during the French Revolution,” said Erik Homberger, who portrays the villainous Cheauvelin.
Sharon Christner plays Marguerite, the transplant to England who is perplexed by her husband’s sudden change of heart and hounded by her ex-lover, Chauvelin, who wants her to use her new social position to discover the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Christner carries not only the part well with her soaring soprano, but also carries the cumbersome dresses and multiple costume changes that the role demands.
Matt Hehnly first impressed me with his street performance of “Into the Fire” during Second Friday last week, where he performed without microphone and with the accompaniment of his dozen “Percy’s Men.” With a jovial personality and booming voice, Hehnly captures the conflicted character he portrays and hits every note perfectly.
While all three of the leads were outstanding, Homberger’s opening night portrayal of Chauvelin was incomparable. He did a really good job of playing a bad guy. The Warwick senior, who is headed off to Lycoming College to study science, demonstrated perfect chemistry with the actors and a connectedness in his performance that showed his skills not only as a vocalist, but as an thespian. Mark my words, he may become the next in the crop of Lancaster County actors to make it big.
Percy’s Men, played by Jeremy Fernandez, Micah Bomberger, Jason Hines, Emily Leister, Sean Guinter, Corey Krstetter, Adres Cedeno, Josiah McCracken, Cameron Pearce, and Ben Bosis, played their parts with exuberance and a sense of delight. Despite dangerous forays into France, their energy, facial expressions, and frilly costumes, coupled with witty banter, carry the musical along. Their line dancing was a highlight for the audience.
The musical originally ran on Broadway about fifteen years ago, after the the release of the film starring Jane Seymour. The book and lyrics are by Nan Nighton, with music by Frank Wildhorn, who composed the music for the Broadway show Jekyll and Hyde. The Warwick production of Scarlet Pimpernel encompasses the talents of almost 100 students in the cast, crew, and pit.
Watch VIDEO of the cast’s powerful preview performance at Second Friday in Lititz. The rousing song and powerful vocals were every bit the perfect advertisement for what turned out to be a spectacular production. For tickets, click BUY SCARLET PIMPERNEL TICKETS.
NOTE: This article is in the process of being updated with the names of cast members and additional information, but is being published now to benefit those who may consider attending. Check back for frequent updates.