- Smithtown Matters
Engeman Theater's 'The Scarlet Pimpernel' Hits All The Right Notes
Engeman Theater’s mesmerizing opening night performance of the musical The Scarlet Pimpernel had the audience up on their feet for a rousing standing ovation that went on and on and on, seemingly without end. The audience further expressed their delight by cheering when Terrence Mann, the acclaimed actor who portrayed Chauvelin in the original 1997 Broadway production, stepped onstage to speak.
Featuring a Broadway-worthy cast, this visually stunning production exploded with powerhouse vocals that blew the roof off. Based on the classic 1905 novel by Baroness Orczy, with music by Frank Wildhorn and book and lyrics by Nan Knighton, this musical takes place in 1794 in France and England during the bloody climax of the French Revolution. The plot follows the exploits of a courageous group of Englishmen led by an enigmatic hero, The Scarlet Pimpernel, who risk their lives to save French aristocrats condemned to the guillotine.
Although this swashbuckling action-packed musical calls for a large cast, the show essentially revolves around the plight of three characters: Percy Blakeney, who is secretly The Scarlet Pimpernel; his beautiful and talented French wife, Marguerite St. Just, and their nemesis, Chauvelin, a ruthless, cutthroat patriot hellbent on purging the French Republic of The Scarlet Pimpernel and his loyal comrades.
Christopher Behmke (Percy Blakeney/The Scarlet Pimpernel)Christopher Behmke, a multi-talented actor, expertly maneuvered his way through the many guises and disguises Percy Blakeney employs throughout the show. Mr. Behmke used his dramatic acting skills to appear strong, capable, and courageous when leading the League of The Scarlet Pimpernel and to create a believable depiction of a Belgian spy. Moreover, he put his comedic acting skills to good use when he pretended to be a vapid, vain, and pompous aristocrat obsessed with the latest men’s fashions as a ruse to throw off his enemies. Mr. Behmke displayed his magnificent vocals throughout the show, and his moving rendition of “She Was There” was a real showstopper!
Christopher Behmke (Percy Blakeney/The Scarlet Pimpernel) and Nathaniel Hackmann (Chauvelin)Chauvelin is one of those anti-heroes who proves to be all the more dangerous because he is handsome, charismatic, appealing, and powerful. Although he is still in love with Marguerite, he manipulates and blackmails her all the same. Nathaniel Hackmann’s riveting performance as Chauvelin captivated the audience every time he stepped on stage. With his rich baritone voice, he aced his solo, “Where’s The Girl.” During a spellbinding fight scene, Mr. Behmke and Mr. Hackmann displayed their athletic prowess and strong combat and fencing skills.
Arianne Davidow (Margeurite St. Just)Arianne Davidow gave an outstanding performance as Marguerite St Just, a beautiful French actress married to Percy. She is terrified that her husband will discover she once had a love affair with Chauvelin. Ms. Davidow showcased her stellar vocals in every number she performed in, and her heartrending duet with Mr. Behmke, “When I Look at You,” was my favorite performance of the evening.
A special mention goes out to Joe Hornberger for his memorable portrayal of Armand St. Just, Marguerite’s younger brother and one of the members of the League of The Scarlet Pimpernel. His moving duet with Ms. Davidow, “You Are My Home,” was one of those magical onstage moments that stays with an audience long after they exit the theater. Jessie Jo Aka gave a strong performance as Marie Grosholtz, an artistic woman with a promising future in wax sculptures.
Christopher Behmke (Percy Blakeney/The Scarlet Pimpernel) and EnsembleThis production was expertly directed and choreographed by Paul Stancato. The opening scene of Act II, “They Seek,” with its polished-to-perfection choreography, is worth the price of admission. The period costumes and wigs by Kurt Alger added to the overall wonder and success of this lavish production. Kyle Dixon’s multi-level scenic design allowed for dynamic stage movement, and the onstage guillotine helped recreate the horror and dread the French people must have sadly experienced during “The Reign of Terror.”
Christopher Behmke (Percy Blakeney/The Scarlet Pimpernel) and Arianne Davidow (Margeurite St. Just)The top-notch ensemble includes Mick Bleyer, Josh Shea Coates, Jonathan Cobrda, Lauren Drewello, Eddie Egan, John Michael Finley, Scott Fuss, Nina Jayashankar, John Alejandro Jeffords, Weston Lecrone, Michael Liebhauser, Anna Catherine Smith, and Daniella Tamasi. The swings are Audrey Fisher, Michael Santora, and Matthew Wade.
The Creative Team includes Michael McBride (Musical Director), John Burkland (Lighting Design), Laura Shubert (Sound Design), and John Collins (Props Design).
The show runs through Sunday, April 30, 2023. For a complete show schedule and more information, contact the theater directly at 631-261-2900, visit the box office at 250 Main Street, Northport, or visit www.engemantheater.com.