Apr 20, 2010

The Scarlet Pimpernel

by Emily DeFosse

The Liberty Theatre Department is now showing its farewell play in the Lloyd Auditorium, “The Scarlet Pimpernel.”

In the world of the French Revolution it is hard to know who to trust. As Sir Percival Blakeney, played by sophomore Kyle Rodgers, discovers. Even his own wife, Marguerite, played by senior Courtney Landwerlen, helped the French government and inadvertently sent men to their deaths.

When the knowledge of Marguerite’s actions reaches Blakeney a rift is formed between the couple and Blakeney forms a secret society against the French and disguises himself as a man called the Scarlet Pimpernel.

“The Scarlet Pimpernel” opened in the Lloyd Auditorium Friday night under the direction of Linda Nell Cooper. The play was originally scheduled as the first show in the new tower theater, however, delays in construction prevented that possibility and forced the actors and stage crew to use their limited space for the large production creatively.

“We enlarged the stage … We took out the first row of chairs,” Cooper said. “We took off everything on the sides so that we could have every available space for staging.”

The theater has two dressing rooms. Cooper’s office and three other rooms were also used as dressing rooms in this production, which has 40 cast members and 18 crew members, according to Cooper.

“The main theme (of this play) is about finding your personal mission and pursuing it with all your passion,” Cooper said. “Standing up for what is right regardless of the obstacles and the enemy in your way.”

Junior Ronnie Brady plays Ben, one of Percy’s followers.
“(The play is about) finding who you really are,” Brady said.

Along with the space issues, learning to speak the French language was challenging, since every actor speaks or sings in French at least once in the show, according to Cooper. The actors also use real swords, making safety a major concern.

“A very rewarding thing (about this play) is that some of my underclassmen who have not done a big dance musical before have gained such confidence on stage,” Cooper said.

One of the main songs in “The Scarlet Pimpernel” is called “Into the Fire.” Cooper believes this song embodies one of the main reasons students should come to see this production.

“I think students are often called upon to face challenges … ‘Regardless of what the challenges are, into the fire we go. Because we will come out stronger in the end,’” Cooper said. “College students face fire every day. Sometimes you just need a little bit of inspiration and encouragement to face that fire. Too many people fail because they fear that fire and run away from it, instead of seeing how the fire can really mold their iron.”

“The Scarlet Pimpernel” is also a “sweeping love story,” and a story about the bonds of brotherhood, according to Cooper.

For more information about show times and ticket prices visit the box office in the Fine Arts Hall or call 434-582-2085.

Contact Emily DeFosse at

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