WASHINGTON TERRACE — Beverly’s Terrace Plaza Playhouse is celebrating its 30th season by bringing back some of their fan favorite shows, starting off with an incredible production of The Scarlet Pimpernel, directed by Leslie Richards. First produced on Broadway in 1997, The Scarlet Pimpernel is a jovial musical (with a book and lyrics by Nan Knighton and music by Frank Wildhorn) based on the 1905 novel with the same title by Baroness Orczy.
Set during the French Revolution, the play opens in Paris as French actress Marguerite announces her final performance before she leaves to England to be married to Sir Percy Blakeney. However, before she leaves, she is blackmailed by Citizen Chauvelin. Shortly after their marriage in England, Percy learns of Marguerite’s involvement in the death of the Marquis and determines he cannot trust his wife any more but that he must do something for the people in France. He enlists his most trusted friends and Armand (Marguerite’s brother) to join him as the “Scarlet Pimpernel” to risk their lives in the deceit of the French Revolutionaries as they release their friends of French nobility from prison and make their escape to England. The French army and Citizen Chauvelin are outraged by the allusive Scarlet Pimpernel, who creates mishap and confusion in order to distract and outwit the soldiers and release the prisoners. His notoriety grows with every escape and leaves everyone in France and England wondering, “Who is the Scarlet Pimpernel?”
Jeremy Gross is the extremely talented actor playing the Scarlet Pimpernel at the Terrace Plaza with powerful vocals and brilliant acting. Gross’s portrayal of the frivolous and ridiculous pimpernel is musical theatre excellence. The way Gross teases Chauvelin and puts him down before ‘The Riddle’ is so amusing and very well acted. Gross’s performance as the Scarlet Pimpernel was outstanding and carried the show throughout the night.
Playing alongside Gross is the beautiful Jessica Andrus as Marguerite. Her soprano voice brought loveliness and beauty to the show. Andrus’s powerful performance of “I’ll Forget You” was excellently expressed as she sung through sobs and passionate pleading. I was especially impressed with her French accent and her French flirtatious mannerisms that made her character so believable.
Maxx Teuscher plays a very convincing Citizen Chauvelin with stoic expressions of an indomitable revolutionary. Teuscher’s ability not to break character in the face of Gross’s flamboyant taunts and shenanigans is commendable. Although his character is supposed to be stiff and uptight, I would have liked to have seen a little more facial expressions, energy, and passion come from his character.
The men of the Scarlet Pimpernel’s band (played by Adam Gneiting, Matt Page, Brian Sears, Erik Hawkins, Tad Wilson, and Tyler O’Bagy) were a great comedic delight. Of course, a highlight in the evening is seeing them all come dressed in shockingly extravagant costumes for the ball. Young Armand was played by Jaron Michaelis, who sings a touching duet with Andrus in a reprise of “You are My Home.” My one recommendation is that Michaelis could learn to speak with a French accent, which would help his character be a little more believable.
Gross, Teuscher, and Andrus sing a bewitching trio in “The Riddle” that is musically fantastic. However, I was distracted by interpretation of this piece and the ensemble’s roles as the moving trees. I felt like the trees wiggled around too much and could add less to the confusion if they acted more like a tree.
A key factor of any French Revolutionary show is the guillotine. Built by Nathan Fawcett, the guillotine filled the stage and was so effective and believable that multiple audience members gasped when the blade dropped. Another fantastic set piece was the boat which seemed to come out of nowhere and had the audience clapping with delight during “Into the Fire.”
Crowning the night in beauty and frivolity were the plethora of costumes created by the costume design team of Jim Tatton and Stephanie Petersen. Marguerite and Percy were each dressed in at least six beautiful and elaborate period dresses or suits with multiple wigs and headdresses throughout the show. Most cast members also had just as many costumes, all elaborate and beautiful. The detail to the costumes was impressive. With most of the costumes being made or purchased specifically for this show, this team had a huge job which they did very well. The costumes truly carry the audience through time to the elaborate French theatre to the frilly English garden parties, and to the French Revolutionary pub and help to tell the story and put on a great show.
Overall, the entire cast and crew put on a fabulous production of The Scarlet Pimpernel that is worth a trip to Ogden to see. If you are local, what are you waiting for? If you aren’t a local, you have until June 4 to make your way to Ogden to see a wonderful production of The Scarlet Pimpernel.