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From Benjamin Orchard in Darwin, Australia:

I've recently become a huge fan of your show "The Scarlet Pimpernel" - I've read all the various librettos and I own all the English language recordings of the show. But, being from Australia, I never had the opportunity to see the show live. I was just wondering... which version of "Pimpernel" do you consider to be the best, the definitive article? Or do you still think of it as a work in progress? Which is the version you would prefer people use as a model if a revival was ever staged in this country?

Thursday, 16 December 2004

Dear Benjamin,

It's nice to know "Pimpernel" has touched a chord in Australia. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see a first class run in Sydney? (Or Darwin!) Thank you for your question. I consider the definitive version of the show to be "SP2," which is the second version done under the direction of Bobby Longbottom. This version was the one with Douglas, Rex Smith and Rachel York and it was the version that got a good review from "The New York Times." However, that's not the reason I like it best. To me, version 2 is the most effective because it has the best pacing, wonderful choreography, additional fabulous costumes, good tight structure, and above all the production was given such style by Bobby Longbottom- real spit & polish and an over-all look and feel that lent itself to true wit. Not having seen the show, it would be impossible for you to be familiar with all these elements as most of them pertain to staging and visual effects.

Having said that, the recording I like best is the Original Broadway Cast recording, as it contains some songs I love- especially "Believe," the original wedding song, and "Vivez!" Also, "You Are My Home" in this recording was used the way I intended it- as a song between a brother and sister. Also, the "Encore" recording only has "I'll Forget You" as a solo. In the production of SP2, there was an amazingly beautiful choral back-up to this song which just broke the heart- unfortunately we couldn't record this rich choral sound on "Encore" because of time and budgetary considerations.

I should also mention that despite everyone agreeing that SP2 is the best of the productions, a lot of my best friends from the show still love the original production the most- it's the one that caught their hearts, although they know with their heads that the 2nd production was the one that worked best. Thanks so much for your interest, Benjamin- Best, Nan

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