The Scarlet Pimpernel:
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The Scarlet Pimpernel, a novel by Baroness Emma Orczy (1865-1947), was first published in London in 1905. The Baroness, a transplanted Hungarian, wrote dozens of books, but this is the one for which she is best remembered.
It is the timeless story of Sir Percy Blakeney, known to late-Georgian British society as a fop more interested in his clothes than anything else. But he leads a double life as "the Scarlet Pimpernel," rescuer of aristocrats and innocents during the Reign of Terror after the French Revolution. He feels betrayed by his new bride, the French actress Marguerite St. Just, and he is pursued by his nemesis, French Republican agent Citizen Chauvelin. The Pimpernel was the first in a long line of "dual-identity" literary and comic book heroes, paving the way for Zorro, Bruce Wayne/Batman, Clark Kent/Superman and more.
The story was immortalized on film numerous times, most notably in 1935 (starring Leslie Howard, Merle Oberon and Raymond Massey) and in 1982 (starring Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour and Ian McKellen). The last television adaption was made as 6 BBC films airing in 1998 and 2000 starring Richard E. Grant, Elizabeth McGovern and Martin Shaw.
The Scarlet Pimpernel's more recent popularity and notoriety is a result of the Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical by Frank Wildhorn and Nan Knighton, which debuted at New York's Minskoff Theatre in late 1997. Starring Douglas Sills, Christine Andreas and Terrence Mann, the show (known as SP1) played for a year and was then revamped and recast with Sills, Rachel York and Rex Smith (SP2). This version closed on May 30, 1999. After a short Southern U.S. tour, a new and downsized cast (SP3) starring Ron Bohmer, Carolee Carmello and Marc Kudisch returned to Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre from September 1999-January 2, 2000. The show then closed after a total of 772 Broadway performances (with 37 previews) for the 3 incarnations. The US national Equity tour (SP4) began in February 2000, with Douglas Sills returning to the role of Percy, co-starring with Amy Bodnar and William Michals [aka William Paul Michals]. Robert Patteri and later, Ron Bohmer replaced Douglas Sills for the duration of the Equity tour, from December 2000 to April 1, 2001. The show continues to be produced all over the world.
There is a plethora of material on the story in its various incarnations available on the Web. The original novels, related books, videos of the film and tv productions, recordings of the musical and show souvenirs are all readily obtainable.