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From Judith in East Hampton, NY:
Nan, the first version of "You Are My Home" in the first show was incredibly real and powerful. The love between brother and sister really worked throughout the story. I found myself sobbing during that song in the prison. The acting was amazing. I will always miss that first run. [Christine] Andreas played Marguerite with the energy that was true to the character in text. I always wondered why the story changed so much. I know there was a new director, but why did he change the strength and conviction of Marguerite? Why did they cut so much of her music? Did you always agree with the changes? And finally, will it ever come out on video as other productions have? Thank you.

Thursday, 22 July 2004

Dear Judith,

There is no simple answer to all of your questions. The first version of "Pimpernel" was just plain going to die unless we made changes. It also needed changes. I agree with you that the original "You Are My Home" worked better as a brother/sister song in the prison and I wrote it for exactly that. However, when we started "Pimpernel 2", the decision was made to reinstate the song "I'll Forget You", which was only heard on the original concept album and was the primary reason that Rachael York wanted to do the show. All of us struggled mightily to find the right spot for "I'll Forget You", and it always came back to the prison. No one wanted to cut "You Are My Home", and so the decision was made to make "You Are My Home" the new wedding song. I was essentially OK with this decision because I had heard of many couples using "You Are My Home" for their wedding song, but I sorely missed (and still do) the original wedding song, "Believe".

I can't say that I agree with you that Marguerite's strength and conviction changed in "Pimpernel 2", and I believe that she actually had more music in version 2 since we did the full version of "Storybook" and added "I'll Forget You". Story changes were necessary in order to create a more vibrant show with better pacing and momentum. As far as my agreeing with changes, rest assured that in the theatre no one can change a single word of the script without the writer's approval. All changes made were done by mutual agreement between Bobby Longbottom and myself, and, of course, Frank Wildhorn if it was a musical change. One is not always thrilled with every change, but the basic reality of musical theatre is collaboration and compromise, and sometimes suggested changes unexpectedly blossom into magic. For example, I wanted to keep "The Creation of Man" exactly as it was in version 1, with the Prince of Wales present throughout, but Bobby had a totally new conception of the number. I compromised on this and the result was what is now probably the most gloriously funny sequence in the show.

To answer your last question, the show was only shot on video for the Lincoln Center archives, and they did thankfully do videos of both "Pimpernel 1" and "Pimpernel 2". The only possibility of a VHS/DVD of "Pimpernel" would be if there was another new major production and a company such as HBO or PBS wanted to shoot it. Let's hope!

Judith, thank you for your really thoughtful questions. My best to you,


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