which may be a slight exaggeration, but it is a musical that i actually think about all the time and use this one line in my head on almost a weekly basis....
“don’t pimpernel this.”
i am referring in my head (and here) to the musical, the scarlet pimpernel. based on the book of the same name. did you know it was the first “superhero” genre book? where the superhero disguises himself as a mild mannered guy so that no one will think he is a superhero. yup. the first one.
in the play the two main characters meet in france (right before the “reign of terror” of the french revolution. i have a thing for plays on the cusp of the french revolution), fall in love (over the course of one song), marry, and move to the guy’s palatial estate in england (he is a member of the english aristocracy, of course). then the reign of terror happens in france. there is an actual song sung about the guillotine. the guy and his guy pals want to help the french people so they start going over and messing with the beheadings with trickery and hijinks. they sing a GREAT song,into the fire (that has become the theme song for one of the armed services elite groups, i think the navy seals.) so in their free time (which they have a lot of. they are rich aristocrats.) they go into france on excursions under disguise to help the french people and using a “scarlet pimpernel” as their sign (the guy’s signet ring and family symbol.) back at home in jolly ole england they all decide to act really really interested in silly things like fashion to divert suspicions that they could be the uber manly scarlet pimpernel. which leads to one of the funniest songs (and costumes) of the show (the french revolution has such few light moments to sing about), the creation of man. they claim to only be visiting france so often to buy fabric and frufru for their clothing needs. and man, do they ever sell that ruse.
meanwhile the wife is a bit confused about her husband and his “friends”. and she is in a bit of trouble herself. seems her family is in the beheading queue back home in france. her old boyfriend (who is the chief head chopper in france) is making clandestine visits to her palatial estate and blackmailing her. forcing her to spy for him and find out who this dastardly pimpernel might be. all to save her brother. of course now her husband finds some proof that seems to suggest that she is french spy and cheating on him with guillotine happy old boyfriend. all the while he is acting all interested in clothing and gone all the time with all his male friends. he seems not quite not the man she married. she seems not the innocent gal he married. all seems awry. but yet it isn’t...
now, this storyline doesn’t really resemble my marriage. adam has NEVER faked an interest in fashion and frufru-ary. and i have had so few relatives guillotined. but at the time that i saw the musical we had been married 10 years and i found myself “pimpernel”ing a lot of situations. jumping to conclusions when he was late home from work. “he doesn’t want to be home with me” kind of thoughts. but really he was just out fighting the french revolution/saving people from the guillotine. sort of. the characters are each exactly what the other person needs IF only they would communicate and tell the truth this would become evident.
during the play i kept thinking, “she should just tell him about the blackmail, he could handle it.” and “he should confide in her about the missions to france. she could help him.” of course that would have made the play a lot shorter and more boring. but i have tried to remember to be a bit more forthcoming about my feelings and my motives in my marriage (to make it shorter and not so boring. well, actually in real life it might help to make it last longer and be more exciting.) not hide things that i think he won’t want to know/or can’t handle. because usually he can handle them better than i am handling them. he is helping fight the french revolution in his spare time after all. and when i start assigning motives to him (ones that are negative and leaps of my imagination) i remind myself not to pimpernel. see how good musicals can be for your life.
the showstopper from this play is a good one. the three main characters all sing about who is fooling who in the riddle.
my favorite song from the show is a solo by the female lead called only love. i actually wrote a skit for our church for mother’s day about adoption and had this song sung at the end. beautiful song.
another musical moment (or a few musical moments if you follow all the links) for today in may.
and i leave you with this quote from the baroness orczy who wrote the novel, the scarlet pimpernel...
I have so often been asked the question: "But how did you come to think of The Scarlet Pimpernel?" And my answer has always been: "It was God's will that I should."
And to you moderns, who perhaps do not believe as I do, I will say, "In the chain of my life, there were so many links, all of which tended towards bringing me to the fulfillment of my destiny."
how GREAT is that quote! sounds like the baroness will be attending my heavenly performance in which i star in the eternally wonderful revival of the scarlet pimpernel. can’t wait to see the costumes in that production. i will be playing the female lead in this one. and i think the baroness will LOVE my rendition of “only love”...