clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Hale's stunning 'Scarlet Pimpernel' almost perfect

Kevin Goertzen as Percy, left, Megan Heaps as Marguerite and Brian Clark as Chauvelin in Hale Centre Theatre's audience-favorite production of "The Scarlet Pimpernel."
Kevin Goertzen as Percy, left, Megan Heaps as Marguerite and Brian Clark as Chauvelin in Hale Centre Theatre's audience-favorite production of "The Scarlet Pimpernel."
Hale Centre Theatre

"THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL," through Sept. 26, Hale Centre Theatre, 3333 S. Decker Lake Drive (801-984-9000); running time: 3 hours (one intermission)

WEST VALLEY CITY — "The Scarlet Pimpernel," is an audience favorite at Hale Centre Theatre — patrons can't get enough of it.

After two successful productions in 2002 and 2004, the theater finally agreed to answer the demands of ticket holders to "bring it back."

So they called original director, Bruce Bredeson, to help stage the return.

It is easy to see why Hale patrons love the show so much: Its staging and sets (designed by Kacey Udy) are impressive, and they allow the theater to do what they do best; the costumes are gorgeous; and Hale tends to pack the stage with very fine talent.

Add to that, the show is fun, funny, has a singable score, great fight scenes and a love triangle.

Sounds like the makings of a lovely night out.

And, for the most part, Hale delivers.

The weight of the show rests primarily on Percy's shoulders — an Englishman who, along with his band of aristocrats, scheme to save the French aristocracy from the guillotine during the French revolution.

Percy needs to be charming, cunning, completely likable and have a killer tenor voice. On Thursday night, Kevin Killian Goertzen (double cast with Justin Bills) did just that.

His boyish good looks make him the perfect dandy, and his voice seems to only get stronger throughout.

Goertzen is matched by his co-stars, Jenny Latimer as love interest Marguerite (double cast with Megan L. Heaps) and Brian Neal Clark as the bad-guy, Chauvelin (double cast with Craig Bowen).

Latimer is beautiful, in the delicate sort of way you imagine of the revolutionary era, as is her singing voice. Plus, she and Goertzen look great together.

Clark stops the show with his powerful baritone solos, and his scenes with Goertzen were some of the best of the evening.

The real scene-stealers are Percy's band of men. Not only do they sound splendid during their group numbers (credit musical director Anne Puzey) they are so darned much fun to watch, and it's clear the men are loving every minute of it.

Finally, the costumes and hats are absolutely stunning. Designer Suzanne Carling worked with a staff of roughly 17, and milliner Katherine Schmid worked with a crew of eight.

Bravo to anyone having anything to do with the costumes and hats.

The grandiose sets Hale uses for this show come at a bit of a cost, however — the set changes can take a long time.

A couple of nit-picky things: There are a few times the characters on stage "freeze" for rather lengthy amounts of time. Some do so with their arms in the air — which seems an odd choice and becomes a distraction as people start murmuring about how long they would stand with their arms overhead. The other unnecessary distraction, cute though it is, is the use of a bulldog in two scenes.

Darling, yes, but the audience quit listening to anything happening as long as the dog was in view.

As I sat listening to the phenomenal singers, I wished Hale would try to incorporate live musicians.

These talented performers need the freedom to explore lush moments on stage, and that's impossible to do to the click of a metronome.

All in all, if you love Hale and/or "The Scarlet Pimpernel," you'll get your money's worth with this show.

Based on the rate of advance-ticket sales, you shouldn't waste time reserving your seats.

Sensitivity rating: A few mild swear words; sword fighting; and a guillotine that actually appears to behead.